The variety of votes we had in the 2-5 section of our annual Islanders Top 25 Under 25 countdown is a great sign: Not for our sanity or competence, mind you, but for the kind of young and now-established talent the Islanders have as John Tavares enters his prime.
Of course the final differences (assuming goaltending) for any team is always (assuming goaltending) what's built out around the core, but the Isles are gathering the pieces for a sustainable core, and I have zero reservation saying our #2-ranked player is going to be one of those guys.
Granted, sophomore slump and "it's just one year" and all that. But the thing about Brock Nelson's rookie season in 2013-14 wasn't gaudy numbers, sheltered minutes, nor unsustainable percentages. It was that he excelled as a three-zone player in multiple roles on multiple lines. Wing, center, checker, scorer -- I think we've only begun to glimpse Nelson's full potential.
That's why I was one of three from our seven voters who put him at #2. Though for me, the good news is you can make good cases for several of the top five players to fall in a different order.
Anyway, this is where we ranked Nelson...
|CIL||Keith||Mike B.||Mark||Mike L.||Chris||Dom|
...and why, starting with the Mr. Downer of the above:
I love Brock Nelson more than anyone on this list not named Ville Pokka. But I also need to be a little realistic.
I can't imagine an NHL GM not trading Brock Nelson straight up for Travis Hamonic. I also don't believe Brock Nelson will be more important to this franchise than Ryan Strome.
With all that said, Nelson is the truth and I'm not going to spit facts and numbers at you, because you've already seen how good he is. Imagine Nelson with a year of experience under his belt and be excited for October.
And just like that, he comes in and is indispensable.
This is looking like a major steal for the Isles. He looks like he can comfortably fill a wing or be a second center, as well as play special teams. Basically, the Isles didn't draft Couturier in 2011 because they already had one. Lemme blow yer minds:
Couturier, rookie: 77 gp; 13 G 14 A 27 Pts; 49.6% CorsiFor (-1.4 CFRel), 14:08 ATOI
Nelson, rookie: 72 gp; 14 G 12 A 26 Pts; 53.2% CorsiFor (+4.5 CFRel), 14:16 ATOI
Couturier was three years younger of course but I don't think any of us will cry if Brock plays 20 minutes a night and nets 40 or so points with that kind of positive possession number.
I <3 Brock
I've been a Brock Nelson fan for quite a while now. It's early, but given his versatility, possession stats and strength, I can't help but vault him up the charts.
Doesn't have the ceiling of Strome, but Brock Nelson is a very solid prospect who has already shown signs he will either pan out as a top 6 forward or a defensive 3rd liner. Has size, can play physical, is strong along the boards and down low, good possession player. May be too good at centre to keep on wing long term.
While this doesn't technically conclude our countdown (votes taken in May 2014), it does take us up to the top guy who needs no introduction and whose rank never entailed any bit of suspense. But we'll get to that next time. Enjoy the draft.