We already know how bright the future is for this New York Islanders club. They have several core offensive players that have them headed in the right direction. The majority of those players are well-documented, and have gotten some attention, with the likes of John Tavares and Matt Moulson both up for awards this summer.
One player who doesn’t get quite the attention that he deserves is that of Frans Nielsen. Nielsen is the type of guy who flies under the radar with these other bigger name players around him, but he deserves a similar amount of credit for what he brings to the mix for the Isles.
Many have listed a second line center as a potential need for the Islanders this summer. But Nielsen has done his best over the past couple of seasons to make sure that there’s already a solution on the roster. He’s more than capable of holding that spot down, as we saw this year.
Nielsen had 29 points this season, which would have had him near a new career high if it were a full year. In fact, had he continued on the same pace, he probably would have surpassed his career mark of 47 by a couple of points. He’s a major asset in the middle for the Islanders.
As a playmaker, Nielsen is terrific. He has good hands and sets up the wingers on either side of him effectively, as his 23 helpers ranked third on the team. That’s following up back-to-back seasons of at least 30 apples. He’s also solid in the faceoff circle, with his 48 percent success rate ranking just a notch below Tavares for tops on the team.
Nielsen logs the fourth most time on the power play among Islander forwards, while spending more minutes on the ice shorthanded than another other forward, at about 2:19. Nielsen really does do a bit of everything for the Isles. He’s a key player at full strength, the center of their second power play unit, and a key penalty killer.
With Nielsen in the mix, the Islanders may be able to forego looking for a second line center this summer. Unless one should fall into their lap, like Brad Richards, they can use their financial resources to focus on other areas of need during the offseason (like in goal).