BOSTON, MA – “You set benchmarks and goals along the way. And I think that’s been one throughout my career you try to achieve, and I’ve been able this year, and I’ve been able to get some pucks and play with some good players like the last couple years and have had some success,” New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson said back on Mar. 5 when he netted his 20th goal of the season against the St. Louis Blues. “So it feels good, and you try to go for the next one.”
After the loss, Nelson did not speak much on his milestone.
“I mean, it feels good to contribute,” Nelson said. “And to get that one…at a time where you know, an important goal in the game…it felt good for sure.”
New York Islanders captain Anders Lee, on the other hand, was very happy for his linemate’s accomplishment.
“I think it’s great. I know it comes in a loss today, but that’s a combination of a lot of his work and the effort he’s put into his game. And you can just see how much he’s progressed over time and the player he’s become,” Lee said. “I mean, he’s an all-around player. I mean, top to bottom. He can make plays, and he’s proven now how good a goal scorer he’s been in his career, and to hit this accomplishment, it’s awesome.”
“We’re all super pumped for him. It’s just… it’s great to see. I mean, it’s well deserved.”
In five of his first eight NHL seasons, Brock Nelson had reached the 20-goal mark and has hit the 26-goal mark twice. Back in 2015-16, Nelson scored 26 in 81 games. Back in 2019-20, a season that was cut short after only 68 games due to the pandemic, Nelson had 26 goals.
He was on pace for around 31 goals that year. But now, there’s no if’s or what’s. The questions now are how many will Brock Nelson score this season, and how high could that number have been without his injury, one that will never be answerable.
Projections mean very little, especially in hockey, where even the most consistent forwards have games where the goals do not come. But Nelson has been ultra-consistent this season and could very well surpass 40 this season with 19 games remaining.
It only took Nelson 11 games to go from 20 to 30 goals.
“Why not?” Anders Lee said when asked if Nelson could reach 40 goals before the season ends. “You know, like, let’s, let’s see what we can do here. I know he’s gonna give it everything he has, and you know, we got plenty of hockey left, and we’ll make sure to get as many chances as we can for him.”
Since he’s broken into the NHL, Brock Nelson has always been a goal scorer. But now, this season especially, we are seeing just how good he can be and how he’s grown as a player since being drafted 30th overall back in 2010.
“Team achievements always trump everything, but you know, there’s guys that you want to see grow,” New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “You know, when we first got here, one of my first talks with Brock on the phone I had, I hadn’t met him, but I had phoned all the players, and I just said I think… they’ve got him playing a little more, trying to be a little bit physical and all that. And I just think, I just said, ‘I think you’ve got some good offensive instincts. I think you can bring more offensively’.”
“And over time he’s done that. He’s been a pretty integral part for the last few years for us.”