In the first half of the Islanders season, no forward was hotter than Brock Nelson. The second year forward dazzled fans and media alike in the first two-three months of the season with his scoring touch and overall increase in play from the prior season. However, as the season went on Nelsons play began to fall off and he was never able to reach that same level he had early in the season. If his play at the World Championships for team USA is any indication, Nelson may have found that level again.
While he may not wear a letter for team USA, that hasn’t stopped Nelson from playing a key role for the team. Through 5 games, Nelson leads the team with 4 goals. He is playing on a line with Nick Bonino of the Vancouver Canucks and 2015 draft standout Jack Eichel.
Nelson has been playing wing for a majority of the tournament to this point after playing center for most of the season with the Islanders. I wonder if his performance has anything to do with playing the different position and if the Islanders will consider that more often next season. One spot I was surprised he didn’t get more time in with the Islanders was on the left-wing of John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. He was the favorite to get that spot out of camp but never was really given much of a chance to run with it. After struggling for a majority of the second half of the Islanders season, hopefully this tournament will give Nelson some confidence as he heads into the summer to train for next season.
Brock Nelson is not the only Islander forward on team USA. Nelson was joined by teammate and occasional linemate Anders Lee as part of the USA squad. Prior to the tournament when asked why he wanted to go, Lee had a great answer for Newsdays Arthur Staple.
Big part of Lee’s decision to play for US at Worlds in Prague. “I don’t want it to end the way things have.” 1st time representing US.
— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) April 29, 2015
While they may not be on the same line with each other, this is an experience that will no doubt bring the two of them closer. That will only pay dividends for the Islanders in coming seasons as both players mature and the Islanders look to become a consistent playoff team and ultimately a Stanley Cup champion.
Whats Next For Him?
With Nelson being a restricted free agent this summer, I am curious to see what kind of contract the Islanders give him. I am expecting a two-year contract probably worth 1.5-2 million a season. This would be a good prove it contract before the Islanders commit to Nelson long-term. As far as next season goes, I see no reason at all as to why Nelson can’t build on his performance from last season and have 50+ points including possibly hitting the 30 goal mark. Had he not fallen off in the second half, Nelson was on pace to hit that pretty easily this season. If he is able to do that, it will no doubt mean great things for the Islanders, and him as well when he is looking for his next contract.