Brock Nelson got a distinct message from Lou Lamoriello in his offseason conversations with the Islanders president and general manager.
“I think Lou made clear that Lou wants to win now,” Nelson said in a telephone conversation on Thursday. “That’s the most exciting thing. He’s not looking to take a lot of steps and wait. He wants to do it now. He’s good at what he does. We’ve just got to go out and play and try and win.”
Lamoriello also made clear that Nelson will be part of the Islanders’ long-term plans as the club announced on Thursday the 27-year-old center, an impending unrestricted free agent, had agreed to a six-year extension. Financial terms were not disclosed but an NHL source said the deal was worth $36 million for an annual average value of $6 million.
For now, that makes Nelson the Islanders’ highest-paid forward after he played last season on a one-year, $4.25 million deal. He appreciates the security of a six-year deal with his second child being born the day after the Islanders were eliminated from the playoffs, though it’s likely he could have earned more on the open market.
“I’m just happy to stay,” Nelson said. “I’m comfortable here, it’s the only place I’ve been. Steps have been taken and there’s a commitment to winning. It’s a fit for everybody and myself. It made sense to get it done and not let it drag on.”
The 30th overall pick in 2010 completed his sixth season with the Islanders with 25 goals and career highs with 28 assists and 53 points as he finally solidified a consistent top-six role.
“I think I probably have to take more steps,” said Nelson, adding he wanted to “push that offensively and increase the numbers while maintaining a two-way game.”
“It’s nice to get that security and that they believe in me,” Nelson said.
The Islanders, in their first season under Lamoriello and coach Barry Trotz, finished second in the Metropolitan Division with 103 points, a 23-point improvement over the previous season, and made the playoffs for the first time since 2016. They swept the Penguins in the first round before being swept by the Hurricanes.
“The team had a lot of success and nobody really gave us a chance,” Nelson said. “Individually, I had a chance to have a bigger role and play with some high-end guys. The guys took steps forward individually and as a team. It all played into how this played out and getting this done.”
Nelson became the first potential Islanders UFA to re-sign as Lamoriello still has a busy offseason ahead.
Captain Anders Lee, goalie Robin Lehner, right wing Jordan Eberle, center Valtteri Filppula as well as forwards Tom Kuhnhackl and Tanner Fritz and defensemen Luca Sbisa and Dennis Seidenberg can become unrestricted free agents July 1.
Lee can likely expect to sign a new deal — be it with the Islanders or elsewhere — for around $7 million annually. Lehner, who is a Vezina Trophy finalist after playing on a one-year, $1.5 million deal, is also expected to sign a lucrative long-term deal and is no lock to return to the Islanders.
Nelson said he’s had conversations with his teammates about their contract talks.
“You wish them the best and you hope to see them back,” Nelson said. “For us, as a family, to plant some roots, it just made sense.”