Brock Nelson
Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Brock Nelson Is A Steady Eddie On The Island

Brock Nelson almost left the New York Islanders. Following the 2017-2018 season, there was no room for him on the top 6, but John Tavares had entered free agency and the longtime captain left for his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs. While it was a tough blow in the moment, Tavares’ free agency decision turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as he would have required a large financial commitment from the front office. Sucking up all of that cap space would have forced some departures and Brock Nelson may well have been at the top of that list.

Brock Is Going Nowhere

However, that situation never came to fruition. The Islanders used the money set aside for Tavares to reward veterans like Nelson, Josh Bailey, and new captain Anders Lee. The organization has seen some changes following their second straight elimination at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning, as Nick Leddy was sent to the Detroit Red Wings and Jordan Eberle was snagged by the Kraken in their Expansion Draft. Despite the turbulence, however, one thing remains clear: Brock Nelson does not get enough praise.

Embracing The Moment

The Island’s lineup shifted with Tavares’ departure. Mathew Barzal became the teams’ top-line center while Nelson centered the second line but instead of shrinking, Nelson’s production increased dramatically with his newfound top-6 responsibilities. His points total jumped from 35 in 2017/18 to 53 in 2018/19 as the Islanders shocked the hockey world with a home-ice advantage in the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs. His game also has not diminished in the playoffs, as Nelson has 23 goals and 18 assists to his name in 67 playoff games. That is near-identical production to his regular-season numbers – on an 82 game pace, Nelson would have around 50 points.

His consistent production is what makes Nelson so valuable in Trotz’s system. He is good for 50 points a season, is defensively sound and is a team-first guy. At six-foot-four and 212 pounds, he is physically imposing and not afraid to drop the gloves. At only 29, Nelson has plenty of years left to be a key contributor for the Islanders. I frankly cannot envision him wearing any other colors besides orange and blue as he enters the third year of his six-year, $36 million deal. We should expect more of the same great play from Brock Nelson as the Islanders look to prove that they are here to stay.

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