Islanders: Best Player To Wear Number 29
By Matt O'Leary
Continuing our best of series, today we will look at the best player to wear number 29 for the New York Islanders in their history.
12 players have worn the number 29 for the New York Islanders in their history. The first to ever do it was Hector Marini who played 45 games as an Islander from 1979-1982. Some other notables to wear it are Joe Reekie, Jamie McLennan, Kenny Jonsson, and Jay Pandolfo.
Of that group, our honorable mention today will be Jonsson. In March of 1996, the Isles sent Wendel Clark, Mathieu Schneider, and D.J. Smith to Toronto and in return got Kenny Jonsson along with Sean Haggerty, Darby Hendrickson, and a 1997 1st round pick (Roberto Luongo).
Jonsson would play the remainder of his NHL career with the Isles. His best year came in 1997-1998, as a 23-year-old, when he had 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists) and finished 12th in Norris Voting. He would average close to 24 minutes a night with the Isles as one of their most important defenders through the early 2000s.
He would leave and go to Sweeden following the 2004 season with the Isles where he played until 2009. That leads us to our winner today, Brock Nelson.
If you told me a couple of years ago that Nelson would be the best Islander to wear number 29 I wouldn’t have believed it but over the past two years especially he’s really transformed into one of their most important players currently.
Nelson was selected 30th overall in the 2010 draft by the Islanders and he would make his NHL debut during the 2013-2014 season. He had 26 points in 72 games that year.
The following year he would improve to 42 points with 20 goals to his name. He would put up 20 goals for three years in a row but then 2017-2018 came, arguably the worst year of his career with 35 points and 19 goals.
At that point, Nelson was known as a streaky player. Someone who would come out of the gates on fire who would then turn ice-cold for nearly the rest of the season before padding his stats at the end.
Once Barry Trotz came that narrative completely changed. Last year, for the first time in his career, he was a 50 points player putting up 53 points and 25 goals. This year, in the shortened 68 game season, he had 54 points and 26 goals.
He was on pace to set a career-high in both goals and points before everything came to a close. Trotz relies on Nelson a ton, as his ice time has gone from 14:44 to 17:58 to 18:52 over the past three years.
Now, Nelson is arguably one of their most important forwards. His seven years with the club is the longest anyone has worn the number and it’s pretty clear that he’s the best one to do it for the Islanders as well.