New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson showed flashes — but not enough consistency — in 2016-17.
Height/Weight: 6-3, 206 lbs
Scouting Report: Versatile forward who struggles with consistency
Stats: 81 GP, 20 G, 25 A, 45 PTS, -6 +/-, 36 PIM
Even with the introduction of advanced metrics, it’s difficult to quantify the performance of a hockey player.
There are so many aspects of the game — forechecking and puck-handling, scoring and trapping — that it’s almost impossible to identify which ones are the most important, and which ones best define a skater.
In Brock Nelson’s case, it’s even more difficult. For the third consecutive season, Nelson tallied 20 goals. He finished fifth on the team in points (45), and competed in every game, except for one. On his scouting report, most notably Hockey Forecasters, he’s listed as a two-way forward with great size and instincts.
But there’s something peculiar about the Minnesota native: It’s almost as if he’s afraid of getting hit.
There’s something wrong when a 6-foot-3, 206 pound forward is the quietest guy on the ice. But Nelson’s a soft, inconsistent skater who just fails to make his presence known on a game-to-game basis. While Anders Lee is the archetype for playoff performers, Nelson’s lack of physicality makes him pretty much Lee’s antithesis.
On paper, Nelson is a big-bodied scorer with good hands and instincts. That’s not a problem: many teams covet this type of player. But if he’s on your team, playing every day at the game’s highest level, he is, perhaps, something more: a heavy underachiever.
Nelson took it himself on a three-on-one in overtime, putting it home with a sizzling wrist shot past the outstretched glove of Frederik Andersen:
Nelson recorded his third consecutive 20-goal season, which earned him his fourth World Championship appearance. At the 2015 Worlds, he led all Americans with 10 points (6G, 4A).
Alex Prewitt of Sports Illustrated wrote a fascinating piece about Nelson’s grandparents, Bill and Roger Christian, who were members of the 1960 Winter Olympic US Men’s Hockey Team (his son, Dave, was on the 1980 ‘Miracle on Ice’ team).
Nelson was inked to a three-year, $7.5 million contract extension in September 2015. His Islanders future is uncertain, however, as the looming expansion draft could land him in Las Vegas.