So far the development of the 21-year-old, drafted in 2010 after the Islanders traded up to grab him with the last pick in the first round, has proceeded about as well as one could have hoped.
At the time of his draft, his projection was even less certain than the typical prospect due to questions about the quality of competition in his Minnesota high school circuit.
Those questions faded with his first two progressive years at North Dakota, then really disappeared as he took to the AHL in his first full season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
At this point, the Sound Tigers' leading scorer in 2012-13 is even a candidate for the NHL roster next season, when he'll turn 22 by training camp. As part of the black aces callups for the playoffs, he even received a spot appearance in Game 6 of the Islanders' six-game playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
One probably shouldn't read anything into that Game 6 performance other than what the fact it even happened says about how the Islanders view him.
How we voted:
Some remarks on why he we've rated his stock so highly, some of us putting him ahead of several U25 Islanders with substantially more NHL experience.
When you look up "2-Way Game" in the Isles prospect dictionary, it says "See Brock Nelson." After watching Bridgeport religiously during the lockout, I thought I was way too impressed with Nelson. But after a tweet to Corey Pronman, my impression was backed up by an outsider with no reason to pump the Isles prospects. Nelson should make a good #2 center in the NHL, or at least a really good 3. Again with the depth down the middle, someone will get moved to the wing, and it could be Brock.
Mike of FIGtastic Powers:
His first name makes it impossible for me to rate him any lower than 5th. But his skill helps. Frans won't always be here (sorry, Dom!), but with Nelson, I'm not worried about that.
Versatility+Big body+ Good hockey instincts. I see a lot of Dave Scatchard in him. Ranked higher because he's less of a boom or bust prospect than some lower on the list.
"Safe" is never a word one should associate with prospects, and with each one there is always some kind of setback that makes you think a guy's upward trajectory has paused if not stalled. But given his development the past three seasons it's pretty safe to say Brock Nelson is going to be an Islander, and a good one.
25U25 Spring 2013 Countdown
6. F Casey Cizikas
15: d Calvin de Haan
16: F Anders Lee