Nelson’s Loss Could Be Dal Colle’s Gain
The contract struggle between the New York Islanders and forward Brock Nelson is coming down to the wire. The restricted free agent Nelson, drafted 30th overall in 2010, has less than a week to sign, as the Islanders have had a long term policy of sitting a player out for the entire year if they don’t sign by preseason, a rule last enforced in the mid-2000s with Sean Bergenheim and Denis Grebeshkov.
Nelson played in his second full season last year, and was a useful but streaky player for the Isles. He put up 20 goals while in rotating positions, seeing time as the third line center, the fourth line center, and the first line left winger. With all that being considered, it’s a big deal if the Islanders don’t get Nelson signed by their organizational deadline. However, Nelson’s loss may be Michael Dal Colle’s gain.
Dal Colle was selected 5th overall by the Islanders in 2014, and recently won the Memorial Cup with the Oshawa Generals. He was going at just about a two point-per-game pace if you include the playoffs, and seems NHL ready to say the least. The Islanders have been relatively patient with their prospects in recent history, but may be forced to accelerate Michael Dal Colle into this position if they don’t have Nelson.
Dal Colle would burst onto the scene less than two years after he was drafted, he’d still probably only see half to three-fourths of playing time during the season. The Islanders are also bringing Steve Bernier to camp on a tryout basis. Bernier scored 16 goals with the Devils last season and is believed to be that extra insurance if Nelson does in fact not sign. Bernier could be used as either depth insurance or if Dal Colle has some problems adjusting to the NHL or has some growing pains along the way.
It’s not the ideal situation by any means, but the Islanders are not in bad hands if Brock Nelson doesn’t sign. It would be a tremendous boost if he does, and John Tavares thinks he will, but the thought of having Michael Dal Colle in the NHL next year is certainly intriguing.
The deadline is September 16th.