When the New York Islanders traded defenseman Devon Toews in the lead-up to the season, it almost inevitably gave Noah Dobson a more prominent role on the teams defensive corps.
When Johnny Boychuk announced his career was over, it thrust Dobson into an important role.
So far, the 21-year-old has held his own and has been a key contributor to the defense.
In four games, Dobson’s recorded three assists — half his point total from 34 regular-season games last year. More than the point production, though, the Prince Edward Island native has seen a significant uptick in his ice time.
Already this year, he’s averaging over 18 minutes per game, which is five minutes more than he was during his rookie season. But he’s also been a key piece on the power play, generating two of his three points on the extra-man unit.
After Thursday’s win over the New Jersey Devils, head coach Barry Trotz said Dobson had put in extra work to have a more visible offensive side. Dobson had drawn rave reviews in the QMJHL for his stay-at-home defensive play, but has added a little more of an aggressive offensive dimension this year. That was especially noticeable on the power play against New Jersey when he came into the slot for a shot attempt that went wide but set up Jordan Eberle’s second goal of the game.
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— Isles on MSG+ (@IslesMSGN) January 22, 2021
“He’s been putting extra time in and some work on the power play as well as 5-on-5,” Trotz said. “I just think that the more he plays, the more comfortable that he gets, the more confidence he gets the better it is for us and better it is for him. I thought he’s responded well from the Ranger game, hopefully, he continues to grow.”
In the aforementioned Rangers game, Noah Dobson took a penalty and was a minus-2 in what was a sloppy 5-0 loss for the Islanders. But after two points and a season-high 20:24 of ice time against New Jersey, Dobson quickly recovered.
Defensively, he’s blocked 12 shots and worked with veteran Andy Greene, though he pair has been toward the bottom for the Islanders in terms of possession. According to Natural Stat Trick, the two have a 35.90 Corsi For percentage in over 40 minutes of ice time at 5-on-5 together. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but that’s a number the Islanders would like to see rise significantly. Right now, it’s the worst pair on the team that’s played any significant minutes this year.
But the good news for Dobson, outside of playing with Greene, he has a CF percentage of 58.33 in a little over 13 minutes of ice time with other partners.
When the Islanders dealt Toews to the Colorado Avalanche, they lost a player who could move the puck and chip in significant time on the power play. While it might be unfair to slip Dobson right into the Toews-sized hole left on defense and power play, he can at least remain a decent contributor in facilitating offense and helping the man advantage.
And so far he has, recording over 2:30 minutes of power-play time in each of the four games this year. As the year goes on, Dobson expects to continue to grow and have that experience benefit him.
“I think confidence is a huge thing, I think the more games you play the more comfortable you feel,” Noah Dobson said Thursday. “Every game I’m getting more comfortable, more confident. I think there’s more opportunities to jump up into the play.”
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