With the organization's first pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft (No. 49 overall), the NY Islanders have selected Danny Nelson from the USA U-18 NTDP.
Nelson is a big-bodied center, much like his namesake Brock Nelson. Standing 6'3" and over 200 lbs., Nelson spent the past few seasons honing his craft with the NTDP. Playing behind the organization's top line of Gabe Perreault, Ryan Leonard, and Will Smith, Nelson was part of the team's second wave of offense. In 62 games this season, he totaled 47 points (21 goals, 26 assists) as one of the team's top triggermen, unleashing 147 shots.
Ranked No. 22 by NHL Central Scouting (NA skaters) Nelson can be considered more of a goal scorer than a playmaker with his heavy shot and finishing ability. His skating is a bit of a concern as he doesn't have the wheels to get out in front of the play, often finding himself entering the zone looking to receive a trailing pass after his linemates have already entered the zone. Once Nelson gets going, he can pick up decent speed, but he doesn't have the initial quickness to get going. He plays an east-west style, controlling the tempo while in possession, making his skating inadequacies less of an issue.
He uses his body well on both ends of the ice, willing to throw a check in the defensive end and shield the puck from defenders on offense.
Heading to Notre Dame this fall for his freshman season with the Fighting Irish, Nelson will gain valuable experience playing against the more physical competition, preparing him for the rigors of the professional game.
Nelson has an NHL-ready body but currently lacks the skills and mindset. He's shown remarkable abilities during his time with the NTDP but hasn't unlocked the next level of his game. If Notre Dame Head Coach Jack Jackson can peel back the layers on Nelson's potential, he can become an efficient middle-6 center.