Brock Nelson Continues Impressive Run with Another Strong Season for the NY Islanders

Brock Nelson scored 30+ goals for the third straight season for the NY Islanders in 2023-24.
Brock Nelson scored 30+ goals for the third straight season for the NY Islanders in 2023-24. / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

When John Tavares bailed on the NY Islanders organization, it created a vacuum at the top of the lineup. Fans can recall that when it seemed like Tavares would be re-signing with the Islanders, the conventional wisdom was that Brock Nelson would be on the move. After all, Tavares and Mathew Barzal would be the Isles' top two centers, and Nelson was never a fit in the bottom six. Furthermore, to this point in his career, Nelson had been a bit of an enigma, unable to put it all together.

*Read our previously Published player report cards: Sebastian Aho | Mat Barzal | Samuel Bolduc | Casey Cizikas | Cal Clutterbuck | Noah Dobson | Pierre Engvall | Hudson Fasching | Simon Holmstrom | Bo Horvat | Anders Lee | Kyle MacLean | Matt Martin | Scott Mayfield

NY Islanders 2023-24 player report card: Brock Nelson

Fast forward six seasons, and Nelson has been perhaps the Islanders' best forward over that stretch. Tavares's departure created an opportunity for Nelson to reclaim that top-six center role, and the rest is history. Under Barry Trotz, Nelson developed into a terrific two-way center, and while he can still be streaky as a goal scorer, he quickly became the go-to option for the team. It is unusual for a player to keep getting better and better into their 30s, yet that's exactly what Nelson has accomplished.

Even more recently, Nelson has reached a new level as an elite goal scorer. Over the past three seasons, Nelson's 107 goals are 21st in the NHL, directly behind Filip Forsberg and Matthew Tkachuk and directly in front of Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, and Elias Pettersson. When you factor in his two-way ability as a center, it becomes clear that Nelson is a legitimate star, and needs to be treated as such.

This leads us to one of the most pertinent questions of the offseason for the Islanders: what does the future look like here? Nelson has one season remaining on his contract and is due to be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2025. It is possible that Nelson has played his last game in an Islander uniform. It is also possible that a contract extension could be announced this summer.

If the 2023-24 season was Nelson's final one as an Islander, it was another terrific one. Nelson scored 34 goals and 69 points and centered the most consistent line of the season with Kyle Palmieri on his flank. Nelson was a focal point on both special teams and was always on the ice in the last minute of a close game.

While Nelson had a quiet postseason like the rest of the Islanders, his 2023-24 season was a success, and it will be interesting to see if Nelson will remain with the Islanders moving forward.

Final Grade: A-