The 2016 free-agent period was a shocker for New York Islanders fans. Not only did the team bring in veteran Andrew Ladd on a ridiculous seven-year $38.5 million deal, but they also lost Kyle Okposo to the Sabres, Matt Martin to the Maple Leafs, and Frans Nielsen to the Detroit Red Wings.
We knew losing the first two was a possibility. Going into July 1, 2016, we were sure to lose Okposo and Martin. But losing Frans Nielsen was something no one was ready for.
Former New York Islanders Frans Nielsen was bought out by Detroit Red Wings
In 2015-16, his final year with the Islanders, Nielsen put up his second-best season with 20 goals and 52 points (his career-high was 25 goals and 58 points from 2013-14).
Over his ten-year Islanders career, Nielsen consistently did his job at both ends of the ice. Scoring 349 points in 606 games and just generally being a solid two-way center in the league.
Not to mention being absolutely lethal on the shootout with a wild 62.7% efficiency during his time with the Isles (37 goals on 69 attempts from 2008 to 2015). Consider that the best efficiency in NHL history is Petteri Nummelin with eight goals on ten shots while Panarin is second with a 61.5% efficiency (16 goals on 26 attempts) Nielsens’ 37 in 69 is very impressive.
It was his two-way play and dedication to the Islanders that made him a fan favorite. The third-round pick from 2002, was there for some of the toughest periods on the Island but he just kept plugging away and doing his job.
While the buyout by the Detroit Red Wings doesn’t guarantee anything you’d have to think that Nielsen’s time in the NHL is over. Perhaps a return to Europe is in order.
But Nielsen had a heck of an NHL career. One that Islanders fans (and those covering the team) remember fondly: