Case Studies Editorials

Is Rushing Noah Dobson a Good Idea?

With the regular season roster finalized, one particular New York Islander prospect has found his way into the main roster. Noah Dobson, quite possibly one of the most-hyped defensive prospects the NHL has seen in years, has made the jump from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies to the main roster of the New York Islanders. In two seasons in the QMJHL, Dobson has notched two Memorial Cups, both with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in 2018 and the aforementioned Huskies this past season.

Dobson was projected by some pundits to be drafted within the top-five in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, but through sheer luck, he fell to 12th overall and was selected by the Islanders. After his 2018-19 QMJHL campaign resulted in his back-to-back championship victories, as well as a successful training camp and preseason with his pro team, head coach Barry Trotz and general manager Lou Lamoriello concluded that Dobson was worthy of a roster spot.

Though Dobson is now touted as a QMJHL legend and has an exorbitant amount of potential at the professional level, he’s never played a single game in the minors. To compound that, he’s starting his professional career just one year after he was drafted. His rise to the NHL is very similar to the emergence of Anthony Beauvillier in the 2016-17 season, as he was also sent to the professional level after one season with the Shawinigan Cataractes just one year after being drafted. Don’t get me wrong, Beauvillier is good, but it seems to me that the general consensus is that he should’ve spent a year or two more developing before being called up to the professional level.

However, there’s a strong chance Dobson converts at the NHL level without any minor league experience. Dobson’s prowess is already clearly evident in his highlights and film, which he may not have a problem replicating as a member of the Islanders.

To draw another comparison, think back to Elias Pettersson last season. After a record-breaking season with the Växjö Lakers HC in the SHL, Pettersson dominated opposing defenses as a member of the Vancouver Canucks a year after he was drafted. Did I mention he won the Calder Trophy in the process? Although they play different positions, this could definitely be the case for Dobson. He has the potential to have one of the best seasons by a rookie defenseman in years.

Dobson is an elite defenseman in every sense. In his 28 regular season games with the Huskies last year, Dobson scored six goals and assisted 30 others. In terms of defensive metrics, he had a +/- rating of +40. During the Huskies 20-game postseason, Dobson posted 29 points and a +/- of +28.

Keep those statistics in mind for a minute and move your focus towards Barry Trotz. Trotz is known for his defense-first mentality of coaching, which turned the Doug Weight New York Islanders 296 goals against into 196 the following year. Trotz almost single-handedly turned the Islanders from literally worst-to-first in defense. Now imagine Dobson playing in the Trotz system.

I know. It’s beautiful, isn’t it?

Lamoriello has added one of the best defensive prospects of the 21st century to the best defense in the National Hockey League. This is a match made in heaven, for both team and player. So is Dobson making the jump to the main roster truly a good idea? To that question, I’ll answer it with the one-word chant Islanders fans know the best.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

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