NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New York Islanders are bringing back one of their top offensive players.
Second-line center Brock Nelson, who was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, agreed to terms on a six-year contract through the 2024-25 season on Thursday. Nelson scored 25 goals and set career highs with 28 assists and 53 points last season to help the Islanders make the playoffs.
According to Newsday, the contract is worth $6 million per season in average annual value.
“It was a bigger opportunity,” Nelson said in a phone interview. “There wasn’t a whole lot of talk about us being a very good team. A lot of people predicted us to be kind of at the bottom of the league. Kind of went out there to prove people wrong and a chip on our shoulder. And for me, that opportunity playing with great players throughout the year, I think just trying to step into those shoes and take advantage of that.”
Getting Nelson under contract was one item on a long offseason checklist for general manager Lou Lamoriello. Captain Anders Lee and goaltender Robin Lehner are among the Islanders’ potential unrestricted free agents.
With former captain John Tavares’ departure for his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs still fresh, the Islanders don’t want to say goodbye to their captain two years in a row and would love to bring back Lehner after a bounce-back season made him a Vezina Trophy finalist.
“Hopefully guys decide to stay and come back and you want to win together,” Nelson said. “This is the only place I’ve ever known. Being comfortable with the fit and everything was great for us, and you hope maybe it’s similar for some of those guys. But you just never know how it shakes out. You hope to see those guys back because last year was a special group and you want to keep it together.”
Nelson played a big role in the Islanders’ surprising sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the playoffs. Of his three goals, one was a go-ahead marker in Game 1 and the others were the eventual game winners of Games 3 and 4.
Nelson credited his excellent 2018-19 season to head coach Barry Trotz, who in his first season with the Islanders engineered a 23-point turnaround in the regular season after they missed the playoffs the season before.
“He believed in me right from day one, and I felt very comfortable and confident with what Barry is trying to do,” Nelson said. “[He’s a] huge factor in that and coming back and that’s part of the [team] heading in the right direction.”
A native of Warroad, Minnesota, Nelson has 241 career points (124 goals, 117 assists) in 480 games, all with the Islanders. He was the 30th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)