Warroad to Grand Forks to Bridgeport to ...?
Brock Nelson hit two major milestones in his development in 2011-12: An outstanding sophomore season as a star (and MVP) on North Dakota's most important line, and consequently, an entry level contract from the Islanders that put him on the path to the NHL with a baptismal tryout in the AHL with Bridgeport.
After playing wing for much of his NCAA career (though often playing the full-ice role and responsibilities of a center, in my eyes), Nelson saw some time at center in Bridgeport as their season steamed toward the playoffs. Reports have him looking green in that debut, so it will be good for the tall left-shooting forward to take his many attributes to the next level and start to discover what kind of NHLer he will become.
How We Voted
Nelson is one of just a couple of prospects with zero NHL experience who appear in the middle of our Top 25 Islanders Under 25. Clearly he needs further seasoning in the AHL next season, but clearly his frame, hockey intelligence and offensive instincts have many of us hoping he belongs in this portion of the list.
Developmentally, Nelson certainly did what he needed to do in 2011-12. It wasn't just the MVP honor but also leading his league and ranking third in the nation with 28 goals, playing big responsible minutes all season long for UND.
His AHL stint included two playoff games before Bridgeport went with a more "dance with who brung ya" lineup for Game 3 against Hartford. With more experiences to add, hopefully next season yields a similar jump forward.
Panelists: CanadianIslesLifer making a return appearance, as well as most of the authors at LHH.
Note: For those LHH readers who sent their own selections in, JPinVA has them summarized in this FanPost. That one will be fun to measure against our panelists' results.
You can see which other prospects just missed our top 25 in this preview post.
- At #25 was 2011 pick John Persson
- #24 saw another Swede from 2011, Johan Sundstrom
- At #23, the irritant known as Justin DiBenedetto
- #22: Kirill Petrov, with an asterisk
- #21: Brenden Kichton, Western late bloomer
- #20: Anders Lee, loophole guy?
- #19: Big Scott Mayfield
- #18: Rhett Rakshani, Queen of Funk
- #17: Aaron Ness, Mini-Me Rising
- #16: Anders Nilsson, Towering Thor
- #15: Kirill Kabanov, now a Proven Winner(TM)
- #14: Nino Niederreiter, historic rookie year
- #13: Calvin de Haan, please don't break
- Our September 2011 25U25 Poll Results
Disclaimer You'll See with Each 25U25 Post
To reflect the variety of ways you can place value on prospects with uncertain futures, we brought a range of philosophies to this: Some voters valued present talent/maturity more, some valued future potential more. All are averaged with the intent of capturing a moment in time in the evolution of the Islanders prospect pipeline.