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Nelson Breakout Offers Islanders Some Hope…Some

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New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson

Islanders in Review assesses every player from the 2021-22 New York Islanders season. We’ll be looking at the highs and lows they experienced during the just-completed campaign and what the future holds for them on the island. Today, we feature center Brock Nelson. 

Brock Nelson

Position: C

2021-22 totals (GP-G-A-P): 72-37-22-59

Contract Status:  Three years remaining with a $6 million AAV

SEASON SYNOPSIS

Brock Nelson’s 2021-22 season showcased consistent offensive production from start to finish. Even with missing nine games in the first half of the season, Nelson still led the New York Islanders in the goal department, and after COVID-10 pauses and more of a consistent schedule, Nelson continued to flourish.

He ended his season with a career-high 37 goals, which also led the New York Islanders.

That was the most goals Nelson has scored since the 2019-20 shortened 68-game season, in which he lit the lamp 26 times. His 59 points, thanks to a 22-assist campaign, was also a new career-high.

Although Nelson had plenty of individual success this season, he dominated with Anders Lee on his line, or should I say when Nelson was elevated to the top line after a Mat Barzal injury.

Nelson looked so comfortable alongside Anders Lee that head coach Barry Trotz elected to keep the two together for the remainder of the season.

Although projections mean nothing since the NHL is unpredictable, Brock Nelson averaged 0.51 goals per game, essentially a goal every other game. If he had not missed 10 games, Nelson might have finished his season with around 42 goals, given how consistent he was.

BROCK NELSON’S QUOTE:

“Yeah, I think it was, you know, a couple of tough times for myself, you know with the injury and just different the way things played out. And at one point, I think it only played three or four games in a couple of months so, I was happy with how I was able to kind of get back, training staff got me back feeling good and thought my game was in a good place, you know, early and you’re always looking to try and go out there and contribute. Like you said, not looking too much at you know, individual achievements, but that’ll probably be something you know, do some reflecting after a couple of cool milestones or different things along the way that, you know, will mean a lot, you know, later on in life.”

BROCK NELSON’S 2021-22 HIGHLIGHTS

On Mar. 19, in a 4-2 win over the Dallas Stars, Nelson recorded his second hat trick of the season, with his 25th, 26th, and 27th (ENG) goals of the season. He also set a new career-high with 27 goals, with 23 games remaining on the schedule.

You have heard of Broctober and all the different month nicknames after Nelson has gone off, but this past March was a whole new ball game. In 17 games in March, Nelson notched 13 goals and eight assists for 21 points. Four of his 13 goals were game-winners.

Nelson also shot the puck at a 27.7% clip that month.

BROCK NELSON’S 2021-22 LOWLIGHTS

After getting off to such a hot start in 2021-22, one of the few members of the New York Islanders to do so, Nelson fell victim to a lower-body injury on Nov. 21 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was placed on IR and missed the next seven games.

Over that span, the New York Islanders went 1-3-3.

After returning to the lineup against the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 11, Nelson would only play in three games before landing in COVID-19 protocol. Because of opponent outbreaks, the Islanders had 12 days off before their next game, which meant that Brock Nelson had played in just four games over 52 days.

And just before the regular season came to a close, Brock Nelson was hit with the stomach bug, as he missed Game 80, his 10th and final missed game of the 2021-22 season.

What made these absences a bit more painful is that Brock Nelson provided the most consistent offensive output when in the lineup. Who knows how many points he would have had and how much better the Islanders would have faired if he did not miss any time.

WHAT DOES HIS ISLANDER FUTURE HOLD?

Brock Nelson will be entering his age 31 season, and health will be of utmost importance given his importance to the New York Islanders. Missing 10 games was not ideal, and he did more than enough to make up for lost time. But I think the biggest thing to watch is who he starts the season with.

Again, as we will say with all the players on the list, having a new head coach changes many things, but what Nelson did with Lee cannot be ignored.

For the first time in Brock Nelson’s career, we could see him enter a season as the first-line center, which will raise expectations.

It’s not to say that Nelson will provide another 37-goal campaign. Still, the Islanders need a consistent threat, as their streaky offense has been a double-edged sword over the last few years, which for sure has limited success during the regular season and as we have seen in the postseason.

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