We’ve addressed the notion that critiquing a player’s consistency isn’t the best form of criticism. No single player is consistent. But when it comes to certain New York Islanders players, what do they need to improve for 2016-17?
In this post, we’re going to focus on Brock Nelson. The former first-round draft pick by the New York Islanders had a woeful 2015-16 season. At least if you’re to believe criticism from coach Jack Capuano at the end of last season.
This review is part of an Eyes on Isles focus on three New York Islanders’ players: Anders Lee, Ryan Strome, and Brock Nelson. We’ve already taken a look at Anders Lee and at Ryan Strome. You can find them here:
Like the first two, we want to look at some basic stats and try to find out if there’s anything that can be learned from them. Is there one area that these players need to focus on?
All stats taken from Hockey-Reference
What’s Eating Brock Nelson
Nelson still had a forty point season in 2015-16. It’s not like his production fell off a cliff or anything. He added six goals and lost eight assists but still managed to keep a 40 point production level.
But there are two stats that stand out: shooting percentage and Corsi-for.
Nelson finished the season with a 15.8% shooting percentage. Remember that league average is between 7%-8%, Nelson finished with almost double that.
Nelson got a little help from lady luck when it came to shooting last season, something he likely won’t receive again in 2016-17. Which brings the Corsi-for into scope.
Not Possession Driven
A 48.8% Corsi-for is bad, just flat out bad. More time then not Nelson is playing a defensive game, chasing the puck, rather than being on the attack and firing pucks at the opposition net.
His Corsi-for shouldn’t be that bad considering Nelson starts a clear majority of the time in the offensive zone. Last season, Nelson’s offensive zone starts were at 57.8% compared to 2014-15’s total of 44.7%.
Starting in the offensive zone generally leads to better shooting opportunities, for what are fairly obvious reasons. But in Nelson’s case that just didn’t pan out.
Just like teammate Ryan Strome, Nelson’s shot differentials, or shot attempts, were way off and stayed way off. Nelson finished with a -54 shot attempts total according to NHL.com.
Just so we’re clear this is what the NHL measures for shot attempts:” Shot attempts (SAT) and unblocked shot attempts (USAT) are used to measure puck possession for a player or team. When a shot is attempted during 5-on-5 play, all of the skaters on the ice for the team that attempted the shot receive a +1 in shot attempts (SAT) and the players on the opposing team receive a -1.”
It’s long, I know, but it’s important. Nelson finished the season with a negative 54. In fact, Nelson spent much of the season in a negative standing. By October 24th, he was already a negative five and didn’t see positive figures until February 5th.
The good times didn’t last. By February 20th, Nelson was back in the negatives and wouldn’t climb from that deficit for the rest of the season.
Nelson has a great shot and a goal-scorers mentality. But the game is played over 200 feet. If he’s going to take the next step in his development he has to get his off-the-puck game going.
With Strome we saw that near the tail end of the season his shot attempts were trending in the right direction, indicating that perhaps things could be better in 2016-17. But for Nelson the opposite is true.