After finishing the 2020 season with a career-high of 54 points for the Islanders, what can we expect from Brock Nelson in 2021?
Since Barry Trotz has arrived, Brock Nelson has taken his game to the next level. After a disappointing 2017-2018 campaign that saw him finish with 19 goals and 35 points, he exploded for a career-high of 53 points for the Islanders.
He netted 25 goals for just the second time in his career and his ice time jumped up by over three minutes a night on average.
Nelson’s play earned him a six-year $36 million extension with the Islanders. Last year, he was phenomenal for the Isles putting up a 54 point and 26 goal season in just 68 games. Paced out that would’ve been 31 goals and 65 points.
After years of inconsistency, Nelson has developed into one of the better second line centers in the game and is an extremely important piece to the puzzle for this 2021 team.
Like last season, I fully expect Nelson to be playing close to 19 minutes a night. He was second on the team in ice time for forwards and that will likely hold true again in 2021. For the first time in Nelson’s career, he had a faceoff percentage over 50%.
I also expect that to continue as that’s been an important and improved part of his game as he inches closer to 30 years old.
Something else to keep an eye on is his penalty kill time. He went from 65:45 in 2018-2019 up to 106:43 according to Natural Stat Trick. Barry Trotz is clearly trusting him more defensively and that just adds another element to Nelson’s game which makes him so valuable.
In terms of production, I think we’re in for a big season for him in 2021. In the shortened 56 game season, I think we can see a 48 point (22 goals, 26 assists) like season from Brock Nelson. Over a full season that’s a 70 point (32 goals, 38 assists) season.
That would be a career-high by a long shot. He was on pace for a 65 point season last year and with an improved power play, I think there’s a chance that he can hit that 70 point pace to put him in the conversation of elite second liners.
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Without a doubt, Nelson is one of the most important Islanders heading into 2021. If you told me that was going to be the case just three years ago, I would’ve laughed right in your face. That’s hockey I guess.