New York Islanders May Re-Sign Frans Nielsen

Apr 14, 2016; Sunrise, FL, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) celebrates his goal against the Florida Panthers with right wing Kyle Okposo (21), defenseman Travis Hamonic (3) and center Frans Nielsen (51) in the second period on the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 14, 2016; Sunrise, FL, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) celebrates his goal against the Florida Panthers with right wing Kyle Okposo (21), defenseman Travis Hamonic (3) and center Frans Nielsen (51) in the second period on the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New York Islanders are in talks with center Frans Nielsen’s agents regarding a new contract with the team. So long as they don’t overpay this could work out well for the team.

The news of the New York Islanders trying to re-sign 32-year-old center Frans Nielsen first came up sometime over the weekend. Newsday’s Arthur Staple indicated that Isles GM Garth Snow and Nielsen’s agent have been in talks recently regarding a “long-term deal”.

For a team looking to push forward from last year’s 101-points in the regular season and second-round appearance in the playoffs, losing too much of their core would be disastrous to this effort. Kyle Okposo and Matt Martin are all but gone to free agency already. Losing Nielsen in the same fashion would invariably hurt the team’s efforts.

It makes sense for Snow to at least try and get Nielsen to stay with the Isles for what would likely be the remainder of his career.

Nielsen is a leader on this team, evident by the ‘A’ that’s emblazoned on his jersey. But he’s also a leader in a number of categories when it comes to production.

The Production of Frans Nielsen

Frans Nielsen finished third on the team in points behind John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, with 52. But what Nielsen brings to the Islanders game isn’t just his scoring prowess, it’s much more than that.

Last season Nielsen finished with a 50.1% faceoff win percentage. Then consider that Nielsen predominantly starts his shifts in the defensive zone with a 51.8% defensive zone start.

His Corsi-for percentage was an averaged of 51.5% over the last three years. Last seasons 51.1% was good enough for 3rd on the team, behind Anders Lee’s 51.61 and John Tavares’ 51.57. Not only does Nielsen generally win the puck in the defensive zone, but he also drives possession. Two very important aspects of the game.

(All stats are taken from hockey-reference. Except for team Corsi ranking taken from Corsica)

Replacing Nielsen would be incredibly difficult for the Islanders. Nielsen is a perfectly serviceable second to third line center in the NHL. One the Islanders aren’t ready to part with just yet.

It all depends on what Nielsen asks for in terms of a contract. What’s his price and how long of a deal is he looking for?

The Price of Keeping Nielsen

Nielsen is coming off a four-year deal worth $2.75 million per year. Just looking at the Cizikas deal, whom Nielsen likely precedes in the organization’s depth chart at center, necessitates an upgrade on his last contract.

How much of an upgrade remains to be seen. But with the cap going up to $73 million from last year’s $71.4 million will factor heavily in negotiations.

Along with Nielsen the Islanders still have a number of RFAs to sign or tender qualifying offers to, such as: Ryan Strome, Shane Prince and Jean-Francois Berube. How much GM Snow give to Nielsen will have an effect on these RFAs.

It will also have a drastic effect on any free agents Snow might have wanted to bring in. We’re already set to lose Kyle Okposo and Matt Martin to free agency. Replacing them will be imperative. Overpaying for Nielsen will hinder these efforts.

Next: Isles Should Consider a Buyout for Grabovski

Any contract signed for over $5 million per year would be an overpayment for what is likely a third line center on other NHL teams. A contract between $4-$4.5 million seems like a reasonable deal considering the context of the premium on centers and how much the Islanders already paid for Cizikas.

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