Levi Nelson, C
April 28, 1988
Boston's 6th choice, 158th overall in 2006 Draft
Signing status: Signed through 2011
Physical: Average size and slight build despite the fact that he plays a physical, agitating style. Good skater with quick burst and above average speed and agility. Average puck skills and shot. Will go into traffic willingly, but does not excel at making moves at top speed. A better skater without the puck than with it. Does not have the skills to be a scorer at the highest level; must be a grinder/agitator to have any chance at an NHL job. Likes to make hits and finish his checks; plays bigger than his size. Has a gritty, abrasive style but doesn't drop the gloves all that much. Plays a solid two-way game, but has not been able to carve more of a niche for himself in terms of role and ice time in Providence under Rob Murray.
Intangibles: Was Swift Current's captain under then GM and head coach Dean Chynoweth, a former Bruin (now an Islanders assistant coach). Had a reputation for being an intense, hustling player in junior, but has struggled with uneven compete levels and bounced between the AHL and ECHL in his rookie season because he reportedly didn't bring the requisite work ethic. Lacks offensive hockey sense and hands to be a scorer, but does have a good handle on his position and is a solid two-way player with a heat-seeking missile mentality.
Boston Bruins 2010 Development Camp assessment
Did not attend
NHL potential is as a fourth-liner whose time with the Bruins is running out because he hasn't developed and progressed since signing with the team in 2008. He was an overachiever in junior when the Bruins drafted him, with one scout telling me that he was one of the most competitive players he'd seen in a long time. Unfortunately, Nelson hasn't brought the same kind of hustle and energy with him to the pro ranks and has yet to make much of an impact.
The Final Word
The former sixth-round pick in '06 was a project pick at the time who didn't have a great deal of upside, but had potential because of his energetic two-way game and intangibles. Four years later, he doesn't appear to have "it" and barring a major breakthrough in Providence, will likely be let go to pursue his pro hockey dreams elsewhere. He's higher than others in the Boston system because he was a two-time 20 goal man in junior and has the kind of ability to be an NHL player, but as of yet, has simply not put it together enough to warrant serious consideration by the B's.