One more potential arbitration case has been avoided.
The New York Islanders announced on Monday evening that they have agreed to terms with restricted free agent forward Brock Nelson on a one-year deal, avoiding what would have been an August 3 hearing.
Financial terms of the deal were not released by the team, but according to The Athletic’s Arthur Staple it will pay Nelson $4.25 million.
It sets the stage for what could be a big year for Nelson as he will be eligible for unrestricted free agency at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season, meaning the Islanders will have to deal with him, Jordan Eberle and Anders Lee as potential UFA’s before next July 1. That trio represents three of their top-six goal-scorers from this past season while a fourth, John Tavares, left in free agency this summer to sign with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs.
Nelson, originally selected by the Islanders in the first round (No. 30 overall) of the 2010 draft has spent his entire career with the organization and, if nothing else, has been remarkably consistent in his production. To this point in his career he has been a lock to play in at least 80 games and score 20 goals with around 40 points every season. With Tavares now gone and Mathew Barzal likely to take his place on the top-line, this should be an opportunity for Nelson to see an increased role in the Islanders’ lineup.
His career to this point has followed a similar trajectory, at least in terms of production and development, to Josh Bailey, where Bailey spent the first few years of his career as a 15-goal, 35-point winger before getting an increased role in his mid-20s and seeing his offensive production increase. He was able to turn that into a six-year, $30 million contract. With a one-year “prove it” deal and what will almost surely be more ice time Nelson will have an opportunity to put together a season that will allow him to cash in with a long-term deal.
Either with the Islanders or somebody else.