New York Islanders center Brock Nelson has had a hot start to the season, and the latest comments from Head Coach Barry Trotz show that he has a great deal of trust in the free-agent-to-be.
After the New York Islanders shut out the Devils on Saturday night 3-0, Barry Trotz was asked about Brock Nelson’s play. He had this to say about Brock’s game, and in particular his matchup against reigning MVP Taylor Hall, who had his nine-game point streak end (per NHL.com).
"“He was excellent,” Trotz said. “That whole line was excellent. I love the fact that Brock continues to grow and grows in confidence and growing in his role. I have a tremendous amount of trust [in him]. He’s one of the better two-way players. He’s cerebral, he does things the right way, he has a real good skill set and when the game is on the line, he can put it away.”"
The Numbers Back Up the Comments
This sounds like a coach who has found a player he likes. And considering that Brock Nelson leads all Islanders forwards in average time on ice with 18:18, it only solidifies statistically that Trotz trusts Nelson.
And if you think that is only skewed because he plays the penalty kill, consider that he also leads the Isles in even-strength average time on ice with 15:28, which is a full minute plus more than the second forward on the list, 40-goal-scorer Anders Lee.
That 15:28 is also 30 seconds more than even top-six defenseman Johnny Boychuk. Nelson is the only forward who can boast that.
Brock Nelson is also the forward with the sixth most average time on ice on the penalty kill (if you count Tom Kuhnhackl), showing that Trotz trusts his defensive play even though he is not a conventional penalty killer like Casey Cizikas.
The last two Islanders overtime games – guess who started each one in the faceoff circle? One Brock Nelson.
There’s no way to know if he’ll stay in Barry Trotz’s good graces all season, but when he is producing so well offensively and the coach is instead raving about his defense and two-way play, it appears his accountability rating is high with management, and in the Trotz scheme, accountability is trust.