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New York Islanders

Islanders Trade Implications: What Could Brock Nelson Bring Back?



AP Photo/Adam Hunger

The NHL trade deadline is a little over a month away, but teams around the league are refusing to procrastinate.

In the last few days, two blockbuster moves have been completed, with Elias Lindholm heading to Vancouver and Sean Monahan now on his way to Winnipeg.

Now that two of the top centermen off the trade board early, there are many teams still on the market looking for help down the middle. That puts the New York Islanders in a position to make a splash by trading Brock Nelson if they choose to take the leap.

Without question, the idea of trading Nelson is hard to stomach.

Selected in the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Nelson is a career Islander and has played the most individual games with the team of anyone currently on the roster. This season, Nelson officially became an alternate captain but never needed a letter on his chest to be looked at as a leader in the first place.

And still, for all that Nelson has given the Islanders throughout his decade-long run with the team, the biggest could potentially be the return they’d get for him in a trade.

The Montreal Canadiens received a first and a conditional fourth-round pick by giving up Monahan. Meanwhile, the Calgary Flames received a package of three players along with a first and a fourth-round pick in exchange for Lindholm.

Now that the market has been firmly established, the Islanders could certainly get back a similar, if not better, package by trading Nelson.

With 38 points and 21 goals, Nelson is having a better season than both Lindholm and Monahan. He’s also proven to be the more consistent player over the last handful of years.

According to Natural Stat Trick, Nelson has averaged 1.26 goals per 60 minutes, 2.32 points per 60 minutes and generated 4.7 high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes since the start of the 2021-22 season. Neither Lindholm nor Monahan can claim comparable numbers.

Another area in which Nelson looks more favorable to potential buyers is his contract.

Lindholm and Monahan are both slated to be unrestricted free agents this summer, a factor that has been confirmed to be an obstacle in trade negotiations that involved them.

On the 32 Thoughts Podcast, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman said that another team besides the Canucks–which he believes to be the Boston Bruins–was in on Lindholm but didn’t want to give up as big of a package without the guarantee of him signing a contract extension.

That won’t be a concern with Nelson because he has one more year remaining on his deal after this season.

So whether the team that was interested in Lindholm was, in fact, the Bruins, or anyone else for that matter, their options are now slim. They’ll now have to give up premium assets to acquire the help they’re looking for, which should be enticing to Islanders president of hockey operations and general manager Lou Lamoriello.

Over the last five seasons, Lamoriello has traded away four of the Islanders’ first-round draft picks. While all of those trades have been beneficial to the team, they have left the farm system barren and dry, and trading Nelson may be Lamoriello’s opportunity to infuse some much-needed youth back into the organization.

If Lamoriello believes that this current version of the Islanders is capable of making a run at a Stanley Cup, then he shouldn’t bother to even pick up the phone for a team calling about Nelson.

However, with the chance to drastically help the team’s future, it’s hard to argue for prolonging the present.