The Islanders Informer
by William Morrison on 09/18/11 at 02:04 PM ET
Brad Schlossman, who covers University of North Dakota hockey and college hockey in general for the Grand Forks Herald, took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for TII on New York Islanders prospect Brock Nelson, who is entering is sophomore season at UND. Nelson was selected in the 1st round, 30th overall by the Islanders in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Brad thinks that this is an important upcoming season for Nelson. Read after the jump for the full interview.
WM: In 42 games played in his freshman season, Brock netted 8 goals and added 13 assists for 21 points. What do you project Brock to do this season on a very good UND squad?
BS: I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 15-goal, 30-point season. The Sioux probably aren’t going to score as much as last year, but Brock should be one of the team’s top scorers.
WM: Brock was only a +1 last season on a very good team. Do you think this is something he will improve upon as he enters his sophomore season?
BS: Probably, but that can be hard to project. The team as a whole probably won’t have as strong plus-minus ratings, but I would guess Brock’s will be better.
WM: What do you think Brock will improve upon the most from his freshman to sophomore seasons?
BS: His strength. That was his biggest issue last year. He got knocked off his skates quite a bit early on. He seemed to get stronger as the year went along and after a summer in the weight room, I’d expect to see a big difference in that part of his game.
WM: At 6’4” 192, do you think he is physically ready to play in the NHL?
BS: I haven’t seen him play a game in six months, but based on last year, he’s certainly not physically ready for the NHL. That’s part of his game he will develop while at UND.
WM: Is Nelson going to play on the 1st or 2nd line this season? Who will he play with?
BS: Yes. He will be a top-two center along with Corban Knight (5th rd, FLA). The wingers will probably switch throughout the season, but candidates to play with Brock and Corban include junior Danny Kristo (2nd rd, MTL), freshman Rocco Grimaldi (2nd rd, FLA) and freshman Mark MacMillan (4th rd, MTL).
WM: As the 2010-2011 recipient of UND’s Tom Hoghaug Memorial Scholarship, awarded annually to the freshman who demonstrates initiative, character and a sense of responsibility, what attributes does Brock possess that allowed him to be the recipient of this great award?
BS: Pretty much every player that wins that award ends up being a UND team captain one day. Past winners include Jonathan Toews, Travis Zajac, Matt Greene, who all should be NHL captains or alternate captains this season.
WM: Nelson has a long family history of hockey players at UND. How do you think this helped prepare him to play for such a successful NCAA program?
BS: It means that he’s been on skates for a long time and that he has some great bloodlines. He’s a guy with a lot of hockey sense and I’m sure his hockey background has had an impact.
WM: Do you think Brock will stay all four years at UND? If not, when do you expect he will turn pro?
BS: That will all depend on how quickly he becomes ready to step into an NHL lineup. If I were an odds-maker, I’d put the odds on him turning pro after three years, but that’s just a rough estimate.
WM: How do you see Brock’s talent translating to the NHL in terms of skill, physical ability, and size?
BS: I see him being a highly skilled player in the NHL. He’s not a guy who is going to run around and crush people with big hits. He’s the type of player who will dangle through a couple of players and score a highlight goal. He has unbelievable hands and skills. That’s what everyone will talk about when he gets to the NHL.
WM: How do you think playing in such a great conference as the WCHA will help Nelson prepare for the NHL?
BS: It teaches players there are no easy games and no easy shifts. I think at lower levels of hockey, they are able to get away with an average performance and still score a couple of goals. If they don’t play well in the WCHA – no matter who the opponent is – it will be a long night. He also is playing against men, typically 19 to 24 years old. By the time he leaves, he will have prepared for the NHL by playing against physically strong opponents. I think that helps as well.
For all things UND hockey and college hockey in general follow Brad on Twitter @SchlossmanGF.
Follow me on Twitter @TheIsleInformer.
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Welcome to The Islanders Informer. TII will be a forum for discussion, debate, and both Islander and hockey related news.
I'm an attorney by day and hockey fan by night. I'm always open to feedback, suggestions, agreements, disagreements, opinions, and discussion.