Brock Nelson’s tenure as a New York Islander has reached a critical point.
The Islanders and Nelson avoided going to next weeks’ arbitration period yesterday after the two sides agreed to a one year deal worth $4.25 million dollars. It’s a nice increase from the $3.5 million qualifying offer that the team offered the 26-year old and from the $2.5 million dollars he’s made the past three seasons. This new deal makes Nelson the sixth highest paid player on the roster according to CapFriendly.com.
To say this isn’t a wise move for both sides would be foolish.
First off, the deal is another example of President and GM Lou Lamoriello sticking with his plan to evaluate every player within the organization. Lamoriello — who’s only been running the franchise for two months now — has only seen Nelson from afar from his time in New Jersey and Toronto. Now with Nelson secured for another season, it will give Lamoriello and his crew a better perspective as to whether the center/winger will be in the long-term plans for the club going forward. Why this was also a savvy move on the teams’ part, revolves around the notion that it’s Lamoriello saying to another player that he must prove it that he is worthy of being a major asset for the future. How to look at it now, is that Lamoriello is putting faith in Nelson to finally live up to the player he is more than capable of being.
And Nelson needs to finally show the brass, new coaching staff, and the fans that he is capable of becoming not just a good player but a great player.
Over his first five seasons with the club, it’s apparent that the Warroad, Minnesota native has a boatload of talent, but has never channeled it the way that can make him a player who produces at a consistent rate. He’s scored 20+ goals three straight seasons, he’s tallied 40 or more points in three of his first five years as a pro. The hunger and desire is there. All you need to do is go back to one report from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman from this past season that talked about how hard Nelson is on himself when he is really struggling. What’s always been Nelson’s crutch aside from consistency is that he has never utilized his size and strength to his advantage.
The addition of Trotz could really change that. Just look at what he did in Nashville and Washington with several players, and you can point to him taking the same approach with Nelson.
If he does assume to be the second line center, Nelson’s will be handed a very important role that needs to bring out the best in him.
He will be asked to be to drive the offense more than usual if Mat Barzal and his line struggle. Nelson will need to become more defensively active than what he was used to playing on the third line. He’ll need to take on a more-two way flavor that makes him play with a little more physicality and gumption.
There should be no more excuses. No more passes that took place when he was under the watch of Garth Snow, Doug Weight, and Jack Capuano. No more going hot for a string of a few games and then going ice cold for long periods. No more being a defensive liability and playing that soft nonchalant style. You can bet Lamoriello and Trotz will not tolerate seeing one of their key pieces not compete on a consistent basis. If that’s the case, then it will make it much easier for the organization to deal him. That can not happen if this new transition the team is now in will have a successful start.
Nelson talked about guys stepping up with the former captain and an 84-point player in John Tavares now a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but he should put that decree square on his shoulders.
The team needs Nelson to have the best season of his career. And that should mean at least 30 goals and if possible 60 points. Another possible huge pay day by next summer also is an added incentive for Nelson to finally turn in to the player the franchise and the fans envisioned.
No question there’s a lot on the line for both the team and Nelson heading in to this season, but if both look to obtain success, it’s crucial Nelson take his game to the next level.