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New York Islanders Top 25 Under 25: Brock Nelson finishes at #4

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It's the last time the the forward, who turns 25 in October, will appear on our list.

To the net, to the net.
To the net, to the net.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I don't know how a 24-year-old, 26-goal forward doesn't get the nod on our Top 25 Islanders Under 25 ranking over a 21-year-old defenseman who -- whatever one thinks of the coaching decisions behind it -- didn't appear in the lineup until the end of February and saw only 15 regular season games and six playoff games.

But I don't dictate the votes, I just tally 'em.

No, but seriously: Part of the fun of our 25U25 rundown, inclusive of any Islanders property who is under 25 years old, is the chance to combine young pros and (usually) even younger prospects in the same discussion, to weight our expectations for what may be vs. our assessment of what already is.

Despite the danger of random bumps in shooting percentage, I do buy that Brock Nelson has worked on his shot to make himself more dangerous, and we saw the results; he unleashed too many good, hard wristers from the high slot off the rush for me to think his goal increase was all luck. It's worth cautiously noting that he scored 26 goals -- six more than last season -- on 25 fewer shots (165, vs. 190 in the 20-goal 2014-15 campaign). (But if we're talking about luck, we can remember the goals in 2014 that went in off his knee and butt.)

A 10.5 percent shooter in his first two seasons, he didn't suddenly become a 15.8 percent shooter like his 2015-16 line shows. But with his age and his focus on that part of his game for improvement, some increase is sensible. (Now about showing it in the playoffs...)

Nonetheless, I also find the possession number dip others worry about to be a real concern. Still, for who he is now, I'm not punishing him on my list for being almost 25 years old. He's a good piece, and he belongs right near the top. Averaging out our rankings, he ends up in the fourth spot on this countdown. Read below for what our other voters said (or versed).

How We Voted (and Some Why)

King (CIL) Keith Mike B. McNally Garik Dominik Leboff Les
3
2
2
4 2
2
4
7

David King (CanadianIslesLifer):

Brock Nelson will age out of the top 25 under 25, on October 15. I don't believe Nelson's game is going to get much better, outside of the usual defensive improvements that come with age and experience. For this reason, I ranked Nelson 3rd. I believe Nelson is a proven, decent middle 6 winger who can play both sides and spare someone at centre. Nelson is tall and lanky at 6'3, 206 pounds If Nelson bulked up a bit, it would facilitate his game.

McNally:

Improving your goal total by 6 in both your 2nd and 3rd seasons in the NHL is impressive. Nelson has a wicked wrist shot and a nose for finding open space in the offensive zone.

The problem with the Rev is that he disappears at times and I think that mostly stems from playing with a lack of urgency. He most likely won't shoot 15.8% again next season, so he needs to find some consistency to his overall game.

Keith:

The Rev is my favorite regular season player but was my least favorite playoff performer. Has the talent to be number one on this list. I wish he played angrier. Versatility is helpful.

Mike B.:

I'm the silly person who thinks that The Rev's 2-way potential gives him a slight edge over Strome. It's not like he can't score either.

Garik16:

On one hand, Nelson had a good year. On the other hand, he shot less than before and won't get such good shooting luck most likely. And the good possession play has disappeared. The idea that he might become another Josh Bailey is not farfetched, and should be worrisome.

Leboff:

Reason is our soul's left hand, faith her right, by these we reach divinity.

Les (HockeyGoalieEh):

Brock Nelson scored at quite the clip this year, but his possession numbers plummeted. He was previously a possession darling, so the precipitous decline is perplexing. He disappeared entirely in the playoffs. The goal totals didn't outweigh the horrible possession numbers in my eyes. He has a season or two to potentially improve and he looked like a third line player this past year.

If he returns to his regular positive possession form next year then all will be well and good, even if it's at the cost of a few goals here and there. If he doesn't, this team is in very bad shape.

Previously in the Top 25 Under 25