2009-10: Nelson played for the Russell Stover U16 midget minor AAA team in the Midwest Tier 1 Elite Hockey League. In 38 games he scored 18 goals with 17 assists and had 46 penalty minutes. Nelson was selected by Des Moines in the 16th round (228th overall) of the 2010 USHL Entry Draft.
2010-11: Nelson attended USA Hockey's Select 17 Festival in Rochester in July and skated in 41 games for DesMoines in the USHL. He scored 6 goals with 3 assists and was plus-five with 69 penalty minutes. The Buccaneers finished seventh, four points out of a playoff spot, in the Western Division.
2011-12: Nelson went from the USHL to the WHL, foregoing college hockey to play for the Victoria Royals. He played 71 games for Victoria and was the team's third-leading scorer. Nelson scored 23 goals with 39 assists and was minus-two with 70 penalty minutes. The Royals finished fourth in the B.C. Division. In a four-game, first-round playoff series with Kamloops, Nelson had 4 assists and was minus-three with 4 penalty minutes. He was invited to the NHL Draft Combine and was ranked 73rd amongst North American skaters in Central Scouting's final rankings prior to the 2012 NHL Draft.
A 6’1" center who is still growing, Nelson does not possess a standout skill. However, on a team like the Victoria Royals, where there is no standout player, Nelson will benefit a lot from getting lots of ice time. At the very best, Nelson projects to be a low-end, second-line center with a slightly above average offensive game and average defensive game.
Nelson will return to the WHL where he is expected to be one of the Victoria Royals’ top players. Nelson is seen as a more long-term project, so how he performs in his second WHL season is crucial in gauging how far Nelson’s career can go.