With his contract coming to an end, New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson is in need of a solid year in order to place his bid for an extension. While most fans would not be sad to see him go, he may have found the missing piece to elevate his game in rookie, Joshua Ho-Sang.
Every New York Islanders fan is familiar with Brock Nelson’s play and has gone through many hot and cold phases with him. While his stats may suggest that he’s a clearly valuable player, consistently scoring 20 or more goals each year since his sophomore season, watching him play paints a different picture.
Nelson’s soft tendencies often lead to the Islanders losing possession in the neutral zone and battles in the corners. While he’s been mainly a second line player throughout his career, his skill would make him a third line center on any other team. Even his scoring that seems impressive and consistent is born from inconsistency.
In the early months of every season, Nelson often holds one of the top three scoring positions on the team, with usually around 15 goals entering December or January. However, he then tends to fall into a post-holiday break slump, sprinkling 5-7 goals through the spring.
It’s Only Five Games
His specialty of a wrist shot can’t be ignored but he is undeniably weak in most other areas. These scoring slumps and soft habits have turned Islander fans off the idea of re-signing the 26-year-old forward this summer. However, Nelson may have found a useful partner in Joshua Ho-Sang.
Although it has only been five games, it’s hard to deny that 66 and 29 have been effective as linemates. Ho-Sang has notched an assist on each one of Nelson’s three goals this season so far, two in a losing effort against Anaheim and one being the game-winning goal in San Jose.
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While Ho-Sang may just be contributing to Nelson’s traditional early season point spike, the two seem to be compatible beyond just being in the offensive zone together at the right place and time.
The rookie’s stick handling skills are obvious to anyone watching, allowing him to complete zone entries and keep the puck until he’s able to make the clear setup pass, most often connecting with Nelson thus far. Although his dangles have lost his team the puck several times already, once his style of play is disciplined and he and Nelson are able to establish a system, the two could be a machine.
This would utilize not only Ho-Sang’s ability to dance around the opposition but would also give Nelson the opportunity to use his wrist shot more often, as we’ve seen from the two already. Though it’s early in the season, Nelson and Ho-Sang clearly have a certain chemistry, being two of the New York Islanders scoring leaders already. Even Brian Compton gave his input on the subject.
What this means for Nelson’s possible contract extension is still uncertain as it is yet to be seen if Ho-Sang actually has a permanent affect on his game or if he is just a piece in Nelson’s usual early surge. However, at least for the 2017-2018 season, it would be smart to keep 29 and 66 together, possibly testing them together on PP2 to try and get something started on the man advantage.