Prized defense prospect Noah Dobson performed well during his first training camp with the Islanders, though he was ultimately returned to his junior hockey team.
That was last year. This year, a more comfortable Dobson, picked 12th overall in 2018, certainly believes he can make the Islanders’ opening night roster.
“I think last camp I was a little nervous and I wasn’t really comfortable and that kind of affected the way I played,” Dobson said this week. “Now, I’m more comfortable and, knowing most of the guys, I feel like I’m just going to go out and play my game that’s got me to where I am today. I’m not going to change anything.”
Dobson’s potential path to the NHL begins on Sunday morning when the Islanders open their four-day prospects’ camp at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow. It culminates in Wednesday night’s rookie game against the Flyers at Allentown, Pennsylvania.
The veterans report for training camp on Thursday and the Islanders’ open their seven-game preseason schedule at Philadelphia on Sept. 16.
Dobson, along with forwards Oliver Wahlstrom, selected 11th overall in 2018, Kieffer Bellows, taken 19th overall in 2016, Otto Koivula, a fourth-round pick in 2016, and Simon Holmstrom, drafted 23rd overall this June, are among the 30 players expected for the prospects’ camp.
Defenseman Bode Wilde, picked 41st in 2018, is expected to miss the camp with a sprained right ankle.
The right-shooting Dobson compiled 15 goals and 37 assists in 56 games as he split the season between Acadie-Bathurst and Rouyn-Noranda, his third in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
At 19, Dobson is not eligible to be assigned to Bridgeport in the American Hockey League so the Islanders must either keep him on the NHL roster or return him to Rouyn-Noranda.
“I thought I had a really good last two years in junior and that put me in a good position,” Dobson said. “Now, I’ve got to go and try and earn a spot. But I’m definitely confident in my abilities and I feel like I can make the jump this year if I have a really good camp. But it’s going to be on me to try and make a hard decision on management.”
Dobson said the prospects’ camp should provide a solid foundation for the upcoming training camp.
“It’s a good opportunity to shake off the cobwebs that you lose in the summer without playing,” Dobson said. “Get to know the guys, get a feel for the puck then, come main camp, you’re at the top of your level. That’s the goal for me.”