When Barry Trotz took over behind the bench for the New York Islanders Brock Nelson was coming off a career-low year. It was the first time since Nelson's rookie season that he didn't hit 20 goals and his 35 points was yet again a low he hadn't seen since his rookie season.
Things were trending downwards for the, then, third line center. And then Barry Trotz showed up and changed the whole damn thing for Nelson. Since 2018-19 (and not including this year), Nelson had 69 goals and 140 points in 206 games. That's effectively a 27 goal scorer and 56 point player per year.
Trotz saw something previous Islanders coaches either didn't see in Nelson or didn't know how to get out of the 2010 first-rounder. And well, it would be fair to think that a 27 goal/56 points Nelson would be his peak, but this year he's showing that isn't the case. Nelson could do better.
New York Islanders Brock Nelson continues to surprise
Through 38 games this year Nelson already has 19 goals to his name and 28 points. Pace that out over a full season and Nelson - are you ready for this - could score 37 goals and 54 points. (That's taking into account the nine games he's missed so far.)
Now 54 points isn't a career-high for Nelson. He hit that mark in 2019-20 through 68 games played. But that 37 goals pace would absolutely smash his career-high of 26. A high he hit in 2015-16 and then again in 2019-20. Nelson has always been a good goal scorer. But not like this. Nelson's hit a new level for the Islanders this year.
His ability to hover close to 40 goals is a wicked and welcome surprise for Nelson. Remember just a few years back when he was one of the fanbase's favorite punching backs for disappearing after the month of October and not popping back up until March?
Gone are those inconsistent and frankly maddening years. Even now, as 30 years old, Brock Nelson is hitting new gears we didn't know he had.