The NHL trade deadline is only two weeks away, and the New York Islanders are just a single point out of a playoff spot. The Isles should do something drastic and bring back Frans Nielsen.
The New York Islanders are just on the cusp of a playoff spot. A single point separates them and the Toronto Maple Leafs for the last wild-card spot. What if the Islanders traded to re-acquire Frans Nielsen?
There are two assumptions I have to make with this. First, Frans Nielsen will waive his NMC to head back to a market that he knows very well. Second, and this is the big one, that Garth Snow is a rational GM who’s single focus is to improve his hockey club.
I have to assume that Frans would come back. He left the Islanders because he “wanted a chance to be in the playoffs”. And well Detroit isn’t in any position to do so and doesn’t look like they will for a few years.
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Assuming Garth Snow will be a rational GM is the tougher assumption to make. Garth hasn’t always come off as the most forgiving GM’s in the league. So would he admit he made a mistake letting Nielsen go by re-acquiring him at the trade deadline? I’m assuming he’ll put on his big boy pants that day and do the right thing for the club.
Frans Nielsen is one of the most underrated two-way centers in the National Hockey League. Nielsen just does everything well. And the Islanders organization knows this best of all.
Nielsen is ranked second in terms of 5-on-5 Corsi-for in Detroit with a 51.0 rating for players that have played more than 100 minutes. On the Isles, he’d be fourth with the same numbers. Thought I’d fully expect him to show better on a better Islanders team.
There’s actually just a single line that Nielsen is used in that has a Corsi-for under 50.00. And that’s, according to Corsica.hockey, the pairing of Nielsen, Vanek, and Corsi-nightmare Gustav Nyquist.
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Nielsen is that perfect second line center, the type of second line center that the Islanders sorely miss and a sorely lacking. For now, Doug Weight is fumbling between Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Nelson, and/or Ryan Strome.
All are natural center, but neither can get the task done on a nightly basis at the moment. Frans Nielsen would change that.
And with Frans Nielsen, the Islanders have proof of concept. They know what they’re going to get out of him. Because they’ve seen it for ten years.
How Does It Work?
With the Isles cap the way it is, the first step is to place Mikhail Grabovsky on long-term injury reserve. Sorry, Grabovski. But we all know you aren’t coming back. I wish you a well and I wish you could play and fulfill the $5 million commitment the Isles made to you, but right now your cap hit is best served as relief.
Detroit needs to get younger and faster. That 25 years of making the playoffs but not always winning (there was a nice run in there, though) has decimated their prospect line. Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin are great players, but that’s two.
Snow should toss a number of draft picks Detroit’s way. It’s a weak draft year anyways. Toss them the first round, their choice of Mitchell Vande Sompel or Carter Verhaeghe and a conditional fourth round.
Mathematically Detroit are still in the hunt for a playoff spot, but we all know that realistically, they aren’t. The Islanders, however, need that presence in the middle that someone like the very familiar Frans Nielsen can fulfill.