In his 10 seasons with the New York Islanders, 31-year-old Brock Nelson has been many things - from promising young center to frustrating underachiever, to a reliable core player and, last season, the team's leading scorer. One thing he hasn't yet been is an NHL All-Star.
Last year, Nelson scored a career-best 37 goals in 72 games. His 59 points were tied with Mathew Barzal for the team lead on an Isles team that finished 22nd in the league in goals scored. This year, the team's offense has opened up, and Nelson's production has gone up again.
As we head into 2023, Nelson is a point-per-game player with 37 points in 37 games. His 15 goals leads the team, two ahead of captain Anders Lee. Lee scored 40 goals in 2017-18 and Nelson has a chance to hot that mark if he stays healthy this year and has a strong second half. The difference in his game has been how he has been piling up assists. Nelson has four assists in the last three games and is now just six assists shy of his career high of 28.
“Nelson’s game has just blossomed, especially in the last few years,” Lee told NYI Hockey Now earlier this month. “But I mean, he’s always had this skill level and his hockey IQ, and it’s extremely natural for him. You can see how fluid he is out there, whether he’s skating or shooting the puck. Just so solid in all three zones and defensively.”
The skating ability, the hockey IQ, and the shot have always been there, but now he's having the statistical type season that puts him among the best in the league. While Barzal is the face of the franchise and already a two-time All-Star, it's Nelson who is the team's leading point scorer so far this season due to his consistency. The games on Dec. 19th at COL and Dec. 22nd at NYR were the first time all season he went consecutive games without a point.
We're still a little over a month away from the National Hockey League All-Star Game, scheduled to be held at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Florida, on February 4th, 2023, but if Nelson continues to play at this level, Nelson should be at least one of the team's representatives at the All-Star game.