Draft Prospect Profile: Noah Dobson


Each day over the next month leading up to the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, held on June 22 in Dallas, we will be taking a look at the top 31 prospects available, starting with the 31st and leading up to number one.

Next in the series of prospect profiles is our 5th-ranked prospect, defenseman Noah Dobson.

Noah Dobson
2017–18 Team: Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)
Date of Birth: January 7, 2000
Place of Birth: Summerside, P.E.I.
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 177 lbs
Shoots: Right
Position: D

NHL Central Scouting Final Ranking: 5
NHL Central Scouting Midterm Ranking: 8

NHL Comparable: Aaron Ekblad

Noah Dobson is a big but nimble two-way defenseman playing for the recently crowned Memorial Cup champion Acadie-Bathurst Titan in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Dobson is a unique player because of his tall but relatively skinny frame, good skating and excellent two-way playing style. Dobson was already expected to be a top-10 pick in the draft, but with an outstanding showing of 20 points en route to the Memorial Cup championship, Dobson solidified his draft stock as one of the draft’s best defensemen, possibly second best behind only the expected first overall pick, Rasmus Dahlin.

Despite being a taller player, Dobson skates exceptionally well. He has very good speed, which he can use in both directions. He is able to accelerate very quickly given his size, which, in addition to his speed, allows him to create separation from opponents. Dobson possesses a long and powerful stride thanks to his long legs, which also give him a sturdy base. His skating ability helps him jump into the play, which he enjoys doing regularly.

Dobson has the skills required to be a good puck-moving defenseman. Whether skating the puck himself on a rush or making a nice breakout or stretch pass, Dobson can lead a team’s transition to offense effectively. He has good passing skills, which, in addition to good vision, allow Dobson to be a good playmaker, both on the rush and with established possession in the offensive zone. Dobson is very comfortable threading the needle through traffic. This playmaking ability also allows Dobson to be very effective, though not necessarily elite, on the power play in a quarterback role.

Dobson has a very hard slap shot, which he regularly uses from the point and on the power play in the form of one-timers. He is able to get the puck through traffic and on the net. If it does not beat the goalie clean, odds are good a rebound will be available. Dobson also has a nice wrist shot with good power and accuracy and a pretty quick release.

Defensively, Dobson is very effective because of his size, skating and vision. He uses his height well to gain ideal positioning, create leverage to clear the front of the net and win board battles. In addition to his size and wingspan, his skating allows him to cover a ton of the ice and effectively close gaps. His skating also allows him to transition play from defense to offense quickly. Dobson’s hockey sense and vision allow him to be very good positionally, recognize threats and quickly shut threats down.

The biggest (and perhaps only) knock on Dobson’s game is his lack of strength. He has a huge frame, but is very, very raw. He has a ton of room to fill out physically. Adding muscle will allow him to be even more effective in the offensive and defensive zones, with the ability to improve his already great shot and be even better in front of the net and along the boards.

Implications for the Blackhawks
Dobson’s draft stock has risen in the last month or so with his excellent performance at the Memorial Cup. It is very possible, if not likely, he will be off the board when the Hawks pick eighth. But, if he is still available, Dobson would be a great pickup. Upon development, Dobson would likely slot in as the long-term top-pairing right defenseman for the Blackhawks, giving the team an amazing one-two righty punch with Henri Jokiharju. Dobson’s all-around game would be something head coach Joel Quenneville would appreciate, and Dobson would likely be able to earn Quenneville’s trust pretty quickly.

Dobson needs at least a year to continue adding muscle to his big frame. He does not have NHL strength. His game is ready, but an additional year of development would be hugely beneficial in his development. Do not expect to see Dobson in the NHL until 2019–20.

Given Dobson can fill out his big frame, there is no reason to think he will not become a high-end top-pairing defenseman in the NHL. He has all the tools needed to be highly effective in both the offensive and defensive zones. He skates very well for being as big as he is, which will really help him at the NHL level. While not a flashy player, Dobson will be a stud defenseman opponents will dread playing against for the foreseeable future.

What others are saying
“The draft’s biggest riser finished his season with a bang. The smooth-skating, right-shot defender led his Acadie-Bathurst squad to a Memorial Cup victory. He was the heart and soul of the team while also piling up the points at a rapid pace. He finished the QMJHL playoffs with three goals and 13 points in 20 games but increased his level of play during the big dance. He finished tied for third in tournament points with two goals and seven points in four games. Dobson is considered a lock for the top 10 and could even find himself vying for as high as third overall when things shake out in Dallas this month. He has all the tools to be an impact defender in the NHL.”
Cam Robinson/Dobber Prospects

“Rangy, mobile defender with size and strong puck skills who sticks to his opponents like velcro. Dobson is a rare specimen for a teenage defender in that he is a big-bodied puck mover with speed who plays with poise in all three zones. He is one of the QMJHL’s top scoring blueliners thanks to his ability to run a power play, dictate the tempo of a game regardless of the situation and seize opportunities that nobody else was able to identify. Dobson is a strong, agile skater with a deceptively quick first step and the ability to make sharp directional changes in open ice. Getting the puck behind pesky opponents in the neutral zone can be done with either his wheels or with hard, crisp passes, but Dobson isn’t the kind of defenseman who lets his forwards take it from there — he loves to jump into openings and create or finish from areas close to the hashmarks.”
Steve Kournianos/The Draft Analyst

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