New York Islanders Brock Nelson Worth His Cap Hit

Feb 25, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets won 7-0. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 25, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets won 7-0. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

Is New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson worth his cap hit? It’s a simple question with a not so simple answer. Mainly because you’re mind was already made up seven words into this article.

Brock Nelson. Josh Bailey aside, he’s probably the most polarizing current New York Islanders player. But for what he brings to the team, is he worth the money?

Think about it without wearing your Islanders super-fan hat. Forget that one time he missed a wide open net. Forget the other time, and the other-other time that happened. Is he worth the $2.5 million cap hit?

Does Brock Nelson help the New York Islanders win hockey games. Do his contributions on the ice lead to a positive or negative impact on the win column? How does he compare to players with similar production and cap hit?


With 45 points on the season, Brock Nelson was nestled in a group of eleven players. So to build an accurate group of comparables I weeded out the players that didn’t play the same position like Marian Hossa, Kyle Okposo and Rasmus Ristolainen. A defenseman with 45 points carries more weight than a center. Same goes for wingers v. centers.

Then I removed players with vastly different age. Again, 45 points from Travis Zajac at 120 (actually only 32) means more than a 25-year-old Nelson. Leaving Tyler Johnson, Jordan Staal, and Elias Lindholm as production/cap comparables.

*All numbers are taken from CapFriendly.com

By this measure alone Brock seems worth it. He’s getting the exact same production at a significantly smaller cap hit. For now. With only a year left and still a restricted free-agent, his new deal won’t be close to what he’s getting now.

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But what about the whole “winning hockey games” thing? Because sure he scored 45 points this season and an average of 42 over the last three. But what good is that if it’s not winning hockey games?

Winning Games

For this, I wanted to look outside of just his production. What’s his Corsi like, both for himself and for the players he’s with? What was his scoring chance generation like? Is he creating opportunities at the right end of the ice?

When it comes to winning hockey games the best strategy is to control the puck and create chances. Scoring is a completely random occurrence only made possible by the first two.

In terms of Corsi-For, Nelson ranks near the bottom of the Islanders forwards with a flat 45%. Only Anthony Beauvillier and Shane Prince rank worse. Meaning he’s a negative possession player.

When it comes to his linemates Nelson’s impact is inconsistent. The two forwards he played the most with this season were Ryan Strome (343/1018 minutes) and Anthony Beauvillier (306/1018 minutes).

*Stats taken from stats.hockeyanalysis.com

Which means that Nelson’s impact on the team’s overall puck control and his effect on those around him in that department are negligible. They help some like Strome, but not others like Beauvillier.

In terms of scoring chances, Nelson ranked sixth amongst the Islanders forwards in terms of scoring chances for with 8.24 according to Cap Friendly. Although that comes with a caveat of 9.33 scoring chances against.

Whatever Brock is generating for, he’s generating more against. Which obviously isn’t good in the winning hockey games department.

Next: Making the Case for Ho-Sang on Top Line

In summation, Brock Nelson isn’t great in the keeping the puck or creating more chances for than against. But in terms of the number of points he produces relative to his $2.5 million cap hit, yes he’s worth it. Could we demand more? Absolutely. Because after this season he’ll be up for a new contract. And if he wants a raise, he needs to raise his game.