Noah Dobson is on the precipice of becoming just the sixth New York Islanders defenseman since 2000 to record 40 or more points in a season.
He’ll be by far the youngest to do so, too, having turned 22 years old back in January.
The top prospect turned top blueliner of the future has taken the rare chance of being a young player and getting playing time afforded to him — more out of necessity — by GM Lou Lamoriello and head coach Barry Trotz and has run with it; especially as of late.
Over his last 28 games entering Thursday night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Dobson recorded 22 points (4G, 18A). Such offensive promise is further confirmation that the Islanders have a long-term foundational piece for their defense and one that can potentially envoke the sort of two-way production as some of the very best blueliners in the league.
“It’s pretty vital for every team, not only for power play but 5-on-5 play,” Trotz said of Dobson’s boost in offensive production. “Those guys are efficient, they can get out of their own end. They can support the attack and they can lead the attack at the right time. Those guys are extremely important.”
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Dobson checks off all those boxes. He’s not only developing a sound defensive game through his work with veteran Zdeno Chara, but his ability to supplement the Islanders’ attack has helped unlock more production in an attack that had otherwise been stagnant for a majority of the season.
Not only can he quarterback a power play as a vital facilitator and a heavy shot, but he can also find the open man and has the skill to hit him with a pinpoint feed — as seen with his assist on Zach Parise’s goal on Tuesday in Columbus where he lasered a pass from the top of the right face-off circle right to the forward’s stick at the opposite post for a simple tap-in.
A savvy move from such a young player. And it boils down to just one simple concept.
“The more games you play, the more comfort you get, you kind of get confidence,” Dobson said while trying to explain how things have begun clicking for him. “The big thing for me is getting confidence.”
Consistent playing time helped, too. Dobson has hit his stride after the frenzy of a 13-game season-opening road trip and a COVID outbreak within the Islanders’ ranks died down.
“At some point during the year, you could tell when he stacked up a number of games where he looked like he transitioned totally,” Trotz said. “Most young guys that have talent, like Noah does, they still have to try to catch up to the NHL a little bit. Especially defensemen.
“What he’s done is catch up to the NHL game. When you do that, the game is slower, the confidence, the poise to wait for an extra second… he has that sense now or that inner clock that allows things to happen a little slower for him.”