Rookie camp may have officially begun on Sunday morning, but Noah Dobson started skating at Northwell Health Ice Center for about a week prior.
Dobson, the Islanders' 2018 first-round pick (12th overall), was one of a handful of prospects - along with Oliver Wahlstrom, Otto Koivula and David Quenneville among others - to skate with the vets at the Isles' informal sessions.
It wasn't exactly training camp intensity, but the sessions provided a chance to regularly skate with bonafide NHLers and develop some familiarity ahead of main camp next week.
"It's comfort level," Dobson said. "You know most of the guys and feel comfortable around them, so when you get on the ice with them it's not really a shock, you know all them, they all know you. It helps your confidence as well to get to know the guys and be on the ice with them before camp."
If getting acclimated is part of the plan, then the Isles veterans are doing their part. Adam Pelech and Scott Mayfield took Dobson and Wahlstrom to dinner, a pay-it-forward gesture Pelech remembered veterans like Johnny Boychuk doing for him. (Boychuk also housed Quenneville last summer, though they are related through marriage.)
Video: Islanders 2019 Rookie Camp: Day 1
"I know when I was 18, 19, 20 years old and coming to this camp the first few times, it was always nice when the vets reached out to me and made me feel a part of the team," Pelech said. "We've heard a lot about him over the past couple of years and getting out there with him, he's obviously a really good player. I'm excited to see what he can do in training camp."
Dobson was appreciative of Pelech and Mayfield taking him out, saying that he's gotten dinner invitations from other guys like Josh Bailey if he wants to get out of the hotel for a night during camp.
"It shows how good of guys they have in the Islanders locker room, reaching out to the young guys," Dobson said. "They don't have to do that, they're on their summer, so it says a lot about the character in the room. They are really great for me and I really appreciate it."
The end goal for Dobson is to make the Islanders roster out of training camp and he wants to at least make it a tough decision for President & GM Lou Lamoriello and Head Coach Barry Trotz. He'll have to make quite the impression with seven defensemen under contract for the Islanders next season, but he's focused and confident in his abilities.
"That's been the goal of mine all summer, everything I've done is to work towards that trying to make the jump," Dobson said. "I feel like I had a really good summer, I put on some weight, got stronger and I feel really confident. Now it's just about going in, having a good camp and making it a tough decision for them."
Dobson elaborated a bit more.
"You have to show that you're ready. Obviously as a younger guy the speed and physicality is different from the junior level," he said. "Just proving yourself that you're able to handle that and play and that you can go out and compete and battle against men."
Unlike fellow 2018 picks Wahlstrom and Bode Wilde - who both have the ability to play in the AHL as 19-year-olds, as they were drafted out of the USNTDP - Dobson has to go back to junior if he doesn't make the big club. Considering he's won back-to-back Memorial Cups, there's not a lot left for Dobson to do against kids his own age, so it's unfortunate that he's ineligible to go to Bridgeport.
As of Monday, Dobson is just focusing on what he can control, which is getting back into his pre-summer form and using the long runway of informal skates and rookie camp to get some momentum heading into main camp.
"I'm just trying to get my game to the level where it was before the summer and heading into the main camp, but obviously I want to have a good showing here at rookie camp," Dobson said.