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Top 25U25: #5 Noah Dobson has top-four potential

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Noah Dobson was seen as a steal at 12 for the Islanders on draft day, and at the World Junior Summer Showcase, his stock continued to rise.

2018 NHL Draft - Top Prospects Clinic
He makes CHL forwards look like kids!
Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Noah Dobson was one of the highly rated players that dropped in the 2018 draft just enough for the New York Islanders to grab him at #12, instantly adding a truly high-end defenseman to the prospect pool. Dobson may have fallen a bit due to his relative lack of offense compared to Adam Boqvist (#8) and Evan Bouchard (#10) who all project to make bigger offensive impacts in the NHL once they get there.

However, Dobson’s solid skating and high hockey IQ have made him one of the best defensemen in the QMJHL. He was a huge part of Acadie-Bathurst’s Memorial Cup victory last season. At 6’3”, 176 pounds, he’ll need to get stronger in order to best take advantage of his smart positioning decisions on defense. Despite scoring 17 goals, 69 points with Acadie-Bathurst Titan, he does need to work on his offensive game, taking the next step in becoming a stronger two-way player. It seems Dobson knows this, though, after he impressed on both sides of the ice at the World Junior Summer Showcase recently, scoring two goals and being widely praised as Canada’s best defenseman.

If anything, a lot of the ratings around Dobson seem to be conservative about his potential. He was a highly elite defenseman in the CHL by all measures, both offensively and defensively. He’s a volume shooter in the Q, though his shot could stand to be more accurate. He won’t jump into the play as much as some of his more offensive-minded peers will. His defensive stats jump out though, such as in this excellent article from The Athletic, where Dobson and Bouchard are compared. Dobson is an elite puck moving defenseman, with strong numbers across the board for almost every facet of his play. His continued development should likely lead him to a top four spot with the Islanders, and his success is huge for the franchise going forward.

Rationales:

Travis:

Dobson's CHL point-rate for pre-draft season-- 69 points in 67 games-- surpasses pre-draft seasons for Mikhail Sergachev (57 in 67), Dougie Hamilton (58 in 67), Aaron Ekblad (53 in 58), Seth Jones (56 in 61), Ryan Pulock (45 in 61), and others. Yet he is just as well known for his defensive ability as his offensive prowess. At 6'3" the righty-shot's all-around skating may help him become a modern shutdown defenseman.

CIL:

As with Walstrom, the Islanders were unbelievably lucky Dobson fell to them in the 2018 draft. He's a big, physical RD who has speed, high hockey I.Q., can play in all three zones, log heavy minutes 5 v. 5, on the PP and PK. Dobson should be a mainstay on the Isles blue line for years to come, though he likely needs one more year in the CHL.

Mike B:

Dobson, unlike Wahlstrom, doesn't seem to have that one outstanding tool, but he does so much so well, and scouts always remarked about his hockey smarts and ability to close off opposing plays. The Isles got themselves a really good one here.

HockeyGoalieEh:

He's absurdly skilled for his size and as complete as it comes. He could be a second Ryan Pulock which would be insane.

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