With a shortage of centers, the New York Islanders are giving Brock Nelson a chance to prove he can play down the middle. So far he hasn’t impressed.
Let’s get one thing clear, the New York Islanders haven’t played any meaningful games in terms of the standings but the preseason still means something. The preseason matters. The results might not matter so much, but how the players perform and execute matters.
It’s the entire purpose of training camp. The New York Islanders through GM Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz have to take a roster of 68 and trim it down to 23 by the time the regular season starts. And they have a few weeks of preseason to do so.
They have to assess the quality of their players, and where to utilize them best. So when
is placed at center between
and gets a forwards leading 20:19 minutes of ice time, and is virtually absent it matters.
Is It January?
In his not so brief stint against the Flyers the other day, Brock Nelson is quite literally in mid-season form. That’s not a good thing. Unlike most players who get better as the season progresses, Brock Nelson disappears in the midseason.
Last season, Brock scored 35 points. Between November and February, he put up 17 points or 49 percent of his production over a 54 game sample, or 66 percent of the season.
That means the other half of his 35 points came in the remaining 34 percent of the season.
Against the Flyers, in his first preseason game, Nelson was absent much like he is during the season. Again, results, as in wins or losses don’t matter but player performances do. Brock Nelson is not only playing for a center position with the Islanders but a contract.
In the offseason, Brock Nelson signed a single year deal with the Islanders worth $4.25 million. Once that deal expires he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
You have to think if Brock Nelson performs his standard disappearing act he won’t be back with the Islanders. And he certainly won’t be seeing anything north of $3 million again in free agency.
Brock is getting a good chance to show he can play with some good players. On one side he has the fifth best goal scorer in the league over the last two season in Anders Lee and a 70 point player to his right in Josh Bailey.
The Islanders are giving Brock Nelson every chance he needs to succeed down the middle. He just needs to take the opportunity and run with it. So far he hasn’t.
With Jan Kovar and Anthony Beauvillier able to play at center, the Islanders can quickly move on from Brock. And if they do he’s going to have to compete on an already overcrowded left wing.
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The preseason is far from over. The New York Islanders still have another five games to play, including three in the next three nights. Brock Nelson will get a chance to redeem himself.