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Dobson eyes role with Islanders after excelling in junior hockey

Defenseman won consecutive Memorial Cup titles, named MVP of 2019 QMJHL playoffs

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. -- Noah Dobson doesn't have much left to accomplish at the junior level, not after playing an integral role on a Memorial Cup champion for the second year in a row.

But because the New York Islanders defenseman prospect is still 19 years old, the American Hockey League won't be an option this season. He'll either make the Islanders roster or play another season of junior hockey.

"It's probably not the most ideal thing, but you can't control it," Dobson said during Islanders development camp in June. "That's the way it is for junior hockey players; you've got to be 20. You've just got to put in the work this summer, come (to training camp) in September and give it your best and see what happens."

The main question is how soon Dobson (6-foot-4, 190 pounds) will become a full-time NHL player. New York could opt to have him play nine games or fewer this season and then send him back to Rouyn-Noranda of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. If Dobson, who said he models his game after that of St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, plays more than nine NHL games, it will count as the first season of his entry-level contract.

"I'm confident in my ability," Dobson said. "Once I get into training and add some strength, add a few pounds to the frame, I think I'm going to be confident. Obviously you've got to go in with the mindset that you can make it and you've got to believe in yourself. But I definitely feel ready come September."

The No. 12 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft sparkled last season, especially after being traded from Acadie-Bathurst to Rouyn-Noranda on Jan. 6. He had 36 points (six goals, 30 assists) in 28 games following the trade and was named most valuable player of the QMJHL playoffs with 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists) in 20 games.

Dobson then helped Rouyn-Noranda win the Memorial Cup with three points (one goal, two assists) and a plus-4 rating in five games, one year after he helped Acadie-Bathurst to the title with seven points (two goals, five assists) and a plus-5 rating in four games.

"Obviously, I feel pretty good about the season I had," he said. "I just want to have a big summer and go into training camp in September and give myself the best chance possible to try and crack the roster."

Islanders forward prospect Felix Bibeau, a sixth-round pick (No. 178) in the 2019 NHL Draft, was Dobson's teammate with Rouyn-Noranda. He was stunned by how effortless Dobson could make things look and expects him to play in New York soon.

"He's a real good player, but he's a good person too," Bibeau said. "On the ice, he's just a machine. He can't stop, he's skating like the wind. He does everything right. Power play, [penalty kill], 5-on-5, he's really good at everything. He's going to be a great player for the Islanders."

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