When Noah Dobson suited up in place of injured defenseman Adam Pelech for his NHL playoff debut in game six of the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning, it signaled that the 2018 first round pick had earned the trust of the Islanders’ organization to step into a huge situation. Dobson played in 34 regular season games, but he had just been a spectator while working hard at practice in the bubble during the post-season.
Well now it appears that the Islanders are ready to make Dobson a regular top-six NHL defenseman after a trade on Monday shipped Devon Toews to the Colorado Avalanche for second round draft picks in 2021 and 2022. The 26-year-old Toews, the Islanders’ 4th round pick in 2014, is a restricted free agent and had filed for arbitration so there was the perfect storm of both giving a young player the opportunity as well as a salary cap crunch.
“It certainly played a role,” said Islanders President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello of financial considerations during a conference call with reporters on Monday. “A combination of player going to arbitration with unknown and being able to acquire assets which we’ve sort of used in previous trades so it’s all encompassing.”
Change Was Inevitable For Islanders:
Toews was a solid player for the Islanders the past two seasons with 11 goals and 35 assists for 46 points in 116 regular season games. In this year’s playoffs, Toews registered two goals and eight assists for ten points. But the Islanders were two wins away from getting to the Stanley Cup Final and six wins away from the fifth cup in franchise history so there figured to be changes during an unusual off-season in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are expected to be more moves that will allow the Islanders to sign restricted free agents Mat Barzal and Ryan Pulock while also going after a free agent forward that could help a power play that struggled for most of the playoffs. Even with the Islanders needed to give themselves some financial flexibility, this trade would not have been completed without the organization believing that it was Noah Dobson time on Long Island.
“It’s one step but we would not have made this move certainly if the ice-time that Devon received, we didn’t have the ability to put a player into that,” said Lamoriello. “Noah Dobson, certainly we feel is ready to take the next step.”
For The Islanders, It’s Noah Dobson Time:
Dobson was selected 12th overall in 2018 and was just one of 16 players in the NHL born in the year 2000 or later to play in a game this past season. He notched his first NHL goal on January 14th against the Red Wings and also added six assists in limited action but now he is going to get a chance to be a regular. He certainly showed the organization what type of player he is with what he showed during the regular season as well as his time waiting in the wings during the playoffs.
In other words, there was no doubt that the organization was ready to elevate Dobson to a prominent role for next season.
“I couldn’t really sort of measure it other than the confidence we do have in him,” said Lamoriello. “In saying that, we did give up a good hockey player to acquire assets.”
Dobson assumes a big role on a team that now has big expectations after their playoff run. But Dobson is no stranger to being on winning teams as he was part of two Memorial Cup junior championship teams with Acadie-Bathurst in 2018 and Rouyn-Noranda in 2019. In 186 career junior games, Dobson scored 39 goals to go along with 108 assists for 147 points and was a plus 40 showing his command on both ends of the ice.
And now with the Devon Toews trade, Noah Dobson has the opportunity to step in and help take the Islanders to the next level.