Published by hockeybuzz.com, 5-13-2018
DOB: July 18, 1992 (Age, 25)
How acquired: College Free Agent (Minnesota State)
Last contract signed: May 2, 2018 (2yr./$1.625 million)
Final year of contract: 2019-20
2017-18 Stats: 37 games played | 3 goals | 5 assists | 8 points | -14 | 18:47 ATOI
Buffalo Career Stats: 55 games | 3 goals | 9 assists | 12 points | -16 | 17:02 ATOI
What we wrote preseason: N/A
What we wrote mid-season: N/A
Impressions on his play this year: Nelson looks as if he'll be a tribute to proper development in the Sabres organization. He hit the scene in 2016 with four assists in a seven-game stint to start his pro career and looked good in the process. The following season opportunity knocked because of injuries to Buffalo's top-six but the NHL smacked him down and after some rough games he was sent to Rochester. Nelson got back on his feet after stumbling early with the Amerks but finished the 2016-17 season strong with long-time Amerks broadcaster Don Stevens telling me that Nelson might be considered the most improved player on the team.
Nelson had a good camp heading into last season, however he was caught up in a numbers game in Buffalo and was sent to Rochester to from the start. He spent the first half of the season there and was recalled in January, never seeing Amerks ice until the AHL playoffs.
Sabres coach Phil Housley did some d-pair juggling and Nelson found himself on the second-pairing along side veteran Marco Scandella and the duo looked real good. Nelson is smart and solid in his own end while in the offensive zone he manages to get his shot through from the point regularly, something Housley pointed out on a number of occasions. As shown by him and the team coming together on a contract extension, he and the Sabres look like a good fit.
Questions moving forward: With the probable addition of top-pairing defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, where do the Sabres slot him? Is he a legit second-pairing d-man? Can he get a little stronger? How many more minutes can he handle? Will he get some powerplay time? How much upside does he have? Can he continue to progress at the NHL-level?
Contract info via CapFriendly, stats via sabres.com and hockey reference.com.
For some background on Nelson click here.