Prospect Report 1/20/12: College Forward Edition

For this edition of the prospect report I will look at two college forwards that are currently flourishing this season and how they could impact the Islanders. I am talking about University of North Dakota center man Brock Nelson and Norte Dame center Andres Lee. One was a late first round draft pick the other a late round gem found by Garth Snow.

We will start with Brock Nelson who was drafted by the Islanders in the first round, 30th overall in 2010. When drafted Nelson had only played high school hockey in Minnesota so Garth Snow he wouldn’t make the Islanders for a few years. For the past two seasons Brock has been attending the University of North Dakota and has really made strides in his game. So far this season Brock is leading his team in goals (16 so far) and tied for the lead in points with 25 through 23 games. Nelson is a big forward (6’-3” 205lbs) that is learning how to use his size and use it well. He has a hard shot that gets off quickly and is very strong on his skates. Nelson was truly drafted to become a star on the Islanders and from his development so far, it doesn’t look like he will disappoint. A large body that can skate well and shoot with the best of them is a great asset for any team.

With Brock in college I wouldn’t expect to see him on the island next year but it is a possibility. When prospect and rookie camp comes around this summer I would expect lots of eyes to be on him and for good reason. One of the things that I would like to see out of Brock would be his ability to play the wing. The Islanders are currently stacked at center prospects with Tavares, Strome, Bailey, and Neilsen all fairly young and three of the four already in the NHL, this doesn’t really leave a spot open for Nelson but if he could play wing, which shouldn’t be a huge shift for him then he will be fine.

Andres Lee is a special prospect of the Islanders. Drafted in the 6th round, 152nd overall, Lee was passed over by most teams. In high school Lee was not only a talented hockey player but also a talented football player which lead many hockey scouts to believe he would choose football over hockey in college and be a waste of a draft pick. The Islanders took a chance and Lee has done nothing short of impress since he was picked. Currently attending the University of Norte Dame, he is in his sophomore season with the Irish. Lee is currently leading the team in goals with 14 and second on the team in points with 22 in 24 games so far this season. Lee is also a big body on the ice at 6’-3” and 213 lbs that like Nelson is very strong on his skates. He is learning to use his body to his advantage at both ends of the ice with excellent puck protection and effectively using his long reach to knock pucks away. His shot is also a plus to his game as he has a quick release to go with his power.

The one problem I see with Lee is where he was drafted. I am not sure the exact rule but I know players drafted late if they aren’t signed in 3 or 4 years (again I am not exactly sure) they become free agents and are free to sign where they please. This could become a problem if Lee doesn’t like the contract Garth offers him or if he simply doesn’t want to play for the Islanders. Lee has shown his skills and abilities over the past two seasons at Norte Dame and I am sure other NHL teams have taken notice; I just hope he shows loyalty to the Islanders drafting him and signs here before becoming a free agent. He is a great prospect and would be a great addition to the Islanders in a few years so let’s hope he stays.

These two similar prospects from different areas of the draft are both having great success at the college level. Hopefully in the not too distant future we will be able to see both of these young men playing for the Islanders and enjoying success in the NHL.

As always thanks for reading and feel free to comment below and offer suggestions into other prospect you would like me to look into.

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