Where would the New York Islanders be without Brock Nelson?
After a career-high season in 2021-22, with 37 goals, 22 assists, for 59 points in just 72 games, Brock Nelson showed that he could be more than just a streaky goal scorer for the Islanders.
And so far, through 33 games, he’s built on that season and has been, yet again, New York’s X-factor.
Nelson is currently leading the New York Islanders in goals (15), is second on the team in assists (18), and is operating on a point-per-game pace for the first time in his 10-year NHL career (33 points in 33 games).
He’s played a part in 32 percent of the Islanders’ goals this season (33 points, 104 goals).
When Nelson has scored in a game, the Islanders are 12-0-0. When he doesn’t score, the Islanders are 6-13-Afterter starting the season with none in his first seven games, the longest stretch he’s gone between goals s was a four-game stretch from Nov. 17 to Nov. 23, in which he recorded two assists.
Nelson has points in all but eight games this season and has not posted back-to-back point-less games, again showcasing that consistency.
“Nelson’s game has just blossomed, especially in the last few years,” New York Islanders captain Anders Lee told NYI Hockey Now. “But I mean, he’s always had this skill level and his hockey IQ, and it’s extremely natural for him. You can see how fluid he is out there, whether he’s skating or shooting the puck. Just so solid in all three zones and defensively.”
When asked if he thinks Nelson is an underrated player in the NHL, Lee thought so.
“I mean, he shows it every night. And he’s proven that throughout the last few years, but I think just really his play is what stands out,” Lee said. “Not every time do you have to put up a ton of points to be a phenomenal player.”
“I mean, he’s having a great season statistically, but without that, he’s still just such a great skater and a great player, and now that those things are coming, he’s getting recognition, but I think he could also have gotten that before.”
Lee added: “What a well-rounded player and one that’s a great person to play with…a great teammate. When he excels, our team excels.”
Despite the point total, Nelson has been exceptional on the defensive side of the puck too.
Nelson can always be seen backchecking hard, more often than not, putting an end to the opponent’s odd-man rushes. He’s on pace for 62 takeaways this season, which would beat his career high 54 he set back in 2018-19.
And Nelson’s defense is what all his teammates wanted to talk about following Wednesday’s practice.
“I think what stands out is his play away from the puck,” Zach Parise told NYI Hockey Now. “I mean, he’s got a really good stick defensively where he can strip guys. He does it a few times a game, just strips the guys clean of the puck, and that’s a really good skill to have, especially as a centerman.”
“That’s something I didn’t really know about him. You think a guy that’s scoring, getting points, they can sometimes cheat on the offensive side, but he doesn’t do that. He plays both sides, and like I said, he has a really good ability to strip a guy in a pocket.”
Hudson Fasching, who also skates with Nelson in the summer, added that Nelson is the complete player.
“Yeah, I mean, I’ve skated with him in the summer for a while too. So I’ve seen his game,” Fasching told NYI Hockey Now. “He’s got the whole thing, the whole package. I didn’t really realize he kills penalties too. For a guy like him, that’s a goal scorer and a skills guy, to be out there on the penalty kill, and I think he’s just such a smart player, positionally, with everything.”
“He’s willing to take one for the team.”
We ask again, where would the New York Islanders be without Brock Nelson?