Brock is back.
Brock Nelson agreed to terms on a six-year contract with the Islanders on Thursday morning, opting to return to the only organization he's ever known instead of pursuing free agency.
It was an easy decision for Nelson, who was eager to return to Long Island after posting a career-year in 2018-19 with 53 points (25G, 28A), finishing third on the team in scoring and second in goals. Beyond his personal growth, Nelson said he's excited in the direction the Islanders are heading in, especially after last year's 103-point campaign and second-round playoff berth.
"This is the only place I've been, it's been great for my family," Nelson said. "Obviously the way the team is headed, it's going in the right direction and [General Manager] Lou [Lamoriello] is committed to winning now. Everyone is on the same page and has that same goal in mind. We came upon six years and everyone is happy and excited for the future."
Video: Brock Nelson Re-Signs with Islanders
Nelson said there's a lot of optimism and enthusiasm in the locker room after last season's turnaround that saw a 23-point improvement in the standings, as well as a culture change. He sees the 2018-19 season as the start of a new wave, rather than the crest of one, and wanted to stay and build off this year's progress.
"It's a special group and Lou mentioned that a few times and how tight-knit the team was," Nelson said. "I think that just creates something that's hard to find… It creates a special feeling and you ride that wave. It's just a start last year. Hopefully we see more of the same coming up in the next few years."
Nelson cited Head Coach Barry Trotz as another huge factor in his return. Trotz emboldened Nelson by entrusting him with an increased role last year. After playing in a third-line role in 2017-18, Nelson spent last year in the top-six, and averaged the most TOI/GP (17:58) of any Islanders forward. He played power play, penalty kill and took 1246 face-offs, the most on the team.
"He believed in me right from day one and let me go out there and play," Nelson said of Trotz. "I think it worked out great and I felt very comfortable and confident with what Barry is trying to do. Up and down the lineup I think guys would say the same thing. [He's a] huge factor in that and coming back and that's part of the [team] heading in the right direction and wanting to win now."
There were off-ice considerations for Nelson as well. The 27-year-old missed the team's locker clean out day for the birth of his second child and felt like Long Island was a good place to raise a young family. With a six-year deal, Nelson plans to move his family out of the rental apartments and into a more permanent home.
"It's a great spot for families," Nelson said. "You can tell the communities are tight knit, lots of kids running around. It'll be fun to watch the kids grow up out here."
Nelson has essentially grown up here as well, coming into the organization as an 18-year-old draftee, playing in Bridgeport and spending the last six years on Long Island. He's excited for another six.