Brock Nelson enters the final year of a three-year contract in 2017-18, and probably his last as a member of the New York Islanders.
On the eve of the Islanders training camp deadline in 2015, Brock Nelson signed a three-year deal. Since then, the 25 year old center has scored at least 40 points in each of his three seasons, but has failed to grow and mature as a player.
Brock’s play can best be described as both inconsistent and stagnant. Every season from October through around mid-December, it seems that Nelson is red-hot and on pace for a 60-point season. Then, Nelson disappears for large stretches of time.
Standing at 6 feet, 3 inches and at just over 200 pounds, Brock possesses a perfect, puck-protecting frame capable of bruising anyone who would try to deter him from an offensive rush. Ironically, his biggest and most common complaint is that he is not at all physical, and often makes the “lazy” play frequently resulting in turn-overs.
Brock’s strengths rely on him building around his large frame. To take the next step next season, Brock just has to start utilizing more of a physical presence on the ice, and not just in hits. At this point, it’s on the intangibles to help make the biggest difference from Nelson. Things like effectively protecting the puck and shoving off incoming defenders would make a world of a difference.
That on top of his already deadly wrist shot would make for one hell of a one-two punch.
Now on the final year of his contract, Nelson has all the motivation he needs to put together a career season. General Manager Garth Snow wasn’t ready to invest in Brock long-term when he offered Nelson his deal in 2015, and his stagnant play over the last two seasons has not helped his case. Fortunately for him, line-mate Andrew Ladd should be plenty motivated too, as he’s another forward in need of a productive year after an abysmal 2016-17 season.
If Brock expects to stick with the Islanders, he’s going to have to find some consistency, and probably another 10-15 points. Potting away 15 goals to start the season and then disappearing for weeks at a time won’t cut it. The Islanders are in need of a reliable and consistent second-line center to help alleviate pressure from John Tavares.
The competition for Brock’s spot is only getting more and more intense, especially now with the additions of rookies such as Anthony Beauvillier and Mathew Barzal. Another year of the status-quo from Nelson might be the last nail in the coffin of his brief career as an Islander.