An internal deadline was coming up fast and public statements hadn’t been too positive, but the big left winger is back in the fold now. The deal turned out to be perfectly reasonable, so was this all much ado about nothing?
The New York Islanders re-signed left winger Brock Nelson Wednesday night, just squeaking past an internal deadline that otherwise would have see the restricted free agent miss the season.
As Newsday reporter Arthur Staple noted in an eye-opening article the Islanders have had a policy in the past under owner Charles Wang that any player unsigned by the beginning of training camp would not play for the team that season. Nelson effectively had until 7 a.m. this morning.
It’s all a moot point now, however, as the Isles locked up the big Minnesota native to a three-year deal worth $7.5 million total. That puts him in line with peers such as Ottawa’s Mika Zibanejad and Carolina’s Elias Lindholm, comparisons that Nelson’s agent, Ron Salcer, used when speaking with Staple a couple days ago.
In the end, this was the rational conclusion to a flare-up that really escalated quickly. Nelson didn’t have much leverage in the situation, both from a rights perspective and in terms of depth. If GM Garth Snow really wanted to play hardball, he need only show Nelson New York’s youth pipeline, which includes the rising Ryan Strome (50 points in 81 games as a second-year NHLer) and Memorial Cup champion sniper Michael Dal Colle.
On the other hand, if Nelson soured on the Islanders (taking a hard stance himself, for example, and sitting out to wait for a trade), New York would be down their fifth-leading scorer at a time when they are also engaged in negotiations to extend first-liner Kyle Okposo (who will be unrestricted next summer) for the future. The franchise would be fine in the short-term, but with the great building that Snow has done in the past few years, losing two great assets who are either in their prime, or just approaching it, would be a shame.
But everyone’s cool now, right? Seems like it. Nelson never wanted to be problem for the Islanders and with so much young talent on the squad, New York is poised to do damage in the Metropolitan Division as the Brooklyn era begins. The deal got done and now it’s time to play some hockey.