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Video: Noah Dobson on Combine testing, Blackhawks
Having the experience of a proven winner is invaluable to a draft prospect's resume.
For scouts working to add prospects to their club's system, it is a sought after and intangible trait that a player either possesses or doesn't.
The past year of Noah Dobson's career has proven he's a coveted option.
The 6'3" defenseman spent his draft-eligible season showing all those who are watching just how much winning he can do.
During August's U-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, Dobson helped anchor the blueline of a Canadian squad that dominated the tournament. Canada won four of their five games and took home a gold medal. Dobson not only led a defense that only gave up seven total goals, but also helped on the offensive end, registering three assists.
That was just the beginning of an explosive offensive season for Dobson.
During his 67 regular season games for the QMJHL's Acadie-Bathurst, Dobson tallied 69 points (17G, 52A) with 11 goals on the man advantage and two game-winning tallies.
His Titans then stormed through the playoffs and took down everyone in their path, winning the QMJHL championship. Dobson posted 13 points (3G, 10A) in 20 games of postseason play.
"I think I played well in the last two rounds of the QMJHL playoffs, especially the semifinals going into the final and playing Blainville-Boisbriand," Dobson told NHL.com's Mike Morreale. "I had a lot of confidence from that and just wanted to go into the Memorial Cup and play my game. I felt I had a really good first game and things kind of just kept progressing from that."
Still, he wasn't done winning.
The Titans made their way to the Memorial Cup, and with four consecutive victories they were champions once again. The defenseman would finish the tournament with seven points (2G, 5A), good enough to share the lead among blueliners, thus securing his third title in the past 10 months.
Those watching Dobson blossom were taking notice.
"Maybe the most impressive thing about Dobson… was that he was just as good in the Memorial Cup final, his 91st game of the season between the QMJHL regular season, playoffs and Memorial Cup, as he was at any other points during the season," said NHL.com writer Adam Kimelman.
His ability to withstand a full season of games and still perform at a high level was impressive to those that saw Dobson take home QMJHL First-Team All Star honors this year. However, his abilities to perform at a high level both mentally and physically were put to the test yet again as he showed up for the NHL Combine just days after winning the Memorial Cup.
"It's a quick turnaround with finishing up my season Sunday," said Dobson, who arrived in Buffalo for all combine activities on just three days later. "It's been a great experience though, and I think all hockey players want to be in this position at the NHL Combine so I am doing my best to soak it all up."
Dobson did what he was set out to do, noting a number of great conversations with different NHL teams, including a dinner meeting with the Chicago Blackhawks.
"It was great, I enjoyed meeting with them," said Dobson. "It was good to get to know them away from the ice and have a conversation in a more casual setting."
He also performed well during the physical aspect of combine testing, reaching 20 inches in the vertical jump and 110.3 inches in the standing long jump.
"I did pretty good in the jumps," Dobson told Morreale. "My agility has always been pretty good, and the pro agility and jumps are usually my strongest tests, so I felt I did really good in those."
With the combine coming to a close, the 18-year-old defenseman will look to return home for a small break before getting back to training where he plans to put on weight in the form of muscle to be able get into an NHL camp and give the decision makers, "no reason to send me back to juniors."
While the process of getting on that professional size is still an ongoing one, it seems most think his talent is not far off.
"He increased his value throughout Acadie-Bathursts's run to the Memorial Cup championship," said NHL.com's Guillaume Lepage. "With his extraordinary vision and skating ease, he shouldn't need to much more development time to establish himself as a major part of an NHL team's future."
Dobson's dream of the NHL will be confirmed when he becomes what many scouts say is a top-tier draft pick. He also is confident in his abilities and what he will bring to the team that selects him.
"I bring a complete two-way game," he said. "I am reliable defensively and I can also get up in the play and create offense which makes me very valuable."
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
"A very effective two-way defenseman with good puck distribution and a strong shot from the points on the power play. He is a point-producer with size, who defends and utilizes strong positioning and a good stick in the defensive zone," said a scout with NHL Central Scouting.