In Brock Nelson’s first two years under Barry Trotz, he developed into one of the more reliable second-line centers in the game. So much so, that he received a six-year $36 million extension from the Islanders and nobody batted an eye at the number.
Last year, Nelson was on pace for a career year with 26 goals and 54 points in 68 games before the season came to a close. Paced out over a full season, that’s 65 points and 31 goals, which would’ve been a career-high.
Well, in 2021 it’s been an extremely slow start for Brock. In 16 games he has seven points (4 goals, 3 assists). While that goal pace would still put him over 20 over a full 82 game season there’s a slight issue, all of those goals came on the power play.
Through 16 games, or 30% of the regular season this year, Nelson doesn’t have a 5v5 goal. Only three points (all assists) at even-strength isn’t going to cut it for your second-line center.
The strange part is according to Natural Stat Trick, he’s been getting his chances. He has a scoring chances for percentage of 55.56 and a high danger chances for percentage of 59.15 on the season at 5v5.
Should the Islanders move Brock Nelson to line three?
With his struggles, Nelson’s ice time has begun to go down recently. In last night’s loss to the Penguins, he played just 14:16. On the flip side, versatile center JG Pageau has been thriving recently and his ice time has increased as he came in with 16:53 last night.
I would strongly consider swapping the two of them at the moment and see if that gets them going. A lineup something like this:
Lee – Barzal – Bailey
Beauvillier – Pageau – Eberle
Dal Colle – Nelson – Wahlstrom
Martin – Cizikas – Clutterbuck
I fully expect Michael Dal Colle to come back into the lineup with Kieffer Bellows’ struggle last night and perhaps Nelson playing with someone who can fire off shots like Oliver Wahlstrom can help get him in gear.
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The moral of the story, the Islanders need a lot more from Brock Nelson. It also doesn’t help that he had a brutal turnover on the first goal of the game last night but for now, let’s just focus on getting him scoring at 5v5.