SUMMERSIDE – Noah Dobson’s first trip to Big D will have a big impact on his professional hockey career.
The right-handed-shooting defenceman from Summerside is expected to be a high pick in the first round of the 2018 National Hockey League Entry Draft in Dallas on Friday night.
“It’s been pretty exciting for sure,” said the six-foot-three and 179-pound Dobson in describing his last couple of months.
During this time Dobson won the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s President’s Cup and the Memorial Cup – the Canadian major junior championship – as a member of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan; attended Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final along with other top-ranked draft prospects, and took part in the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo.
“Now that the interviews are mostly over, the fitness testing and testing at the combine are over, you can relax and try and enjoy it,” said Dobson. “Obviously, it’s going to be a great couple of days in Dallas with my friends and family.”
Dobson, who was an assistant captain with the Titan in his sophomore season, left for Dallas on Wednesday while his family and friends were travelling on Thursday. The 18-year-old son of Andrew and Jenny Dobson met with 12 teams during the combine.
“Those were like the top 12 teams picking,” said Dobson, who also has a couple of more interviews in Dallas scheduled with teams who could potentially move up in the draft.
Dobson, who grew up cheering for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby, said a big part of his interviews included teams trying to get to know him as a person off the ice.
“They ask about your family, what your parents do, do you have any siblings and they talk about your season,” described Dobson. “They asked about my decision to go away to Austria (to play at Red Bull Academy during the 2015-16 season) and that experience, and this year winning the Memorial Cup, the Prospects Game and all those experiences.
“I know in some of the interviews some of the guys were pushed, and for me they were pretty straight forward and basic.
“It’s kind of cool getting to sit in the same room with some of the NHL GMs you see on TV making trades at trade deadline time, get to know them and talk to them in person is a pretty neat experience.”
One statistic that stands out for Dobson is his plus-minus rating. In his rookie 2016-17 season with the Titan, he was a plus-34 in the regular season and a plus-7 in the playoffs. He finished a plus-33 during the 2017-18 regular season, and was a plus-9 in the post-season.
Both Rogers Sportsnet and The Sports Network (TSN) held mock drafts earlier this week. Sportsnet had the Ottawa Senators selecting Dobson fourth overall while TSN had Dobson’s name called by the Chicago Blackhawks eighth overall.
Dobson, who will be seated with his parents and sister, Elly, at the draft, will have “15 to 20” family and friends in attendance at American Airlines Center.
Dobson said he will be honoured to go to whatever team drafts him, and he is looking forward to intensive workouts this summer.
“With the longer season we had, the downside of that is the less time you have to train,” said Dobson. “The big thing for me is to get some muscle mass on my frame, and mature physically a bit.
“I have to get to it right away. I’ve been training in California a bit, but I will come back here (Summerside) after the draft and will then head to California after development camp (of the team he’s drafted by). It’s a short summer, and I have to do what most players get to do in three months in a month and a half.”
Nonetheless, Dobson wouldn’t change a thing in what has been a year to remember.
“At the start of the year if I thought I would be a Memorial Cup champion and President’s Cup champion, it would be pretty crazy to think about,” said Dobson. “I was fortunate for the year I was able to have, and the championships we were able to win as a team in Bathurst. That’s pretty special.”
There’s still one more important chapter for Dobson’s 2017-18 season. That will be written on Friday, June 22.
Noah Dobson’s statistics with Acadie-Bathurst Titan: