New York Islanders center Frans Nielsen has made a name for himself as one of the most serviceable players in the league.
When asked which impending free agent the Isles should attempt to re-sign, legendary broadcaster Jiggs McDonald said that the team would benefit the most from retaining Nielsen.
“That’s like asking me which one of my children I like best. Each individual brings significant value whether in the dressing room, on the ice, or within the community. Put to the wall, it’s Frans Nielsen,” McDonald said, via The Hockey Writers.
“His ability to play center or the wing, as well as his shootout talent, is one thing. His defensive abilities are another. Does he hit like Matt? No. Does he equal Kyle’s potential goal-scoring numbers? Probably not. Factor in his age, too, and I’ve got another argument going with myself. But I will stick with keeping Frans on the roster. Doing so probably leaves a little more wiggle room with the cap numbers to replace Kyle and or Matt as well.”
Nielsen is a jock of all trades. As Dan Saraceni put it in an article for Lighthouse Hockey, “replacing Nielsen would mean having to find another player — or, more likely players plural — capable of contributing in the ways he does.”
What does he supply?
- He’s adequate on faceoffs, ranking thirty-seventh in the league this past season. As such, he’s a center, which is far-and-away the most valuable offensive position.
- He’s above-average in the goal-scoring department. He has a knack for lighting the lamp at critical moments, and has a wealth of setup skills and playmaking ability.
- He’s a really big asset on special teams. He has a key penalty killing role on one of the league’s most effective units. He can also man the point on the power play, a rarity from a forward.
- He’s the best two-way forward on the team, and possibly one of the best in the league. That’s immensely valuable during the playoffs, when he’s tasked with shutting down the oppositions scoring line.
- He’s top 10 all-time in the shootout. Every single point counts in the National Hockey League, and he puts them in a better spot to win — every single time.
NBC Sports recently reported that the two parties — the Isles and Nielsen’s agents — are talking about a long-term deal.
He’s earned it.