Former NY Islanders forward and fan favorite, Frans Nielsen has made his way back to the NHL, this time in a new role. Nielsen, 38, announced his retirement from the game of hockey in May following elimination with Team Denmark from the 2022 IIHF World Championships. Now, Nielsen will work for the Seattle Kraken in his new role as the team’s hockey operations staff.
Nielsen was hired alongside Justin Rai and Doug Wilson Jr. Nielsen and Rai will be player development consultants, while Wilson Jr. will be an amateur scout.
Nielsen was drafted in the third round of the 2022 NHL Entry draft, 87th overall by the Islanders. He went on to have a 10-year career with the Islanders, skating in 606 regular season games scoring 119 goals and 230 assists. In 24 playoff appearances with the Islanders, the only in his career, Nielsen tallied four goals and six assists.
Nielsen signed with the Detroit Red Wings after walking into free agency in the summer of 2016. He signed a six-year, $31.5 million contract, something the Islanders weren't prepared to commit to. Nielsen skated with the Red Wings for five seasons, dressing in 319 games, accruing 48 goals and 76 assists.
Nielsen was best known for his scoring ability in the shootout. He shot a career 46.23% in shootout attempts, most of his goals coming on the backhand which became known as his signature shootout shot:
"Actually, the backhand thing started already when I played in Sweden. We watched (Alexei) Kovalev do some kind of move and then the next day, everyone was out there trying to copy him. You see guys do stuff and then you try to copy a little bit. Some stuff, you know, 'No I can't do that,' and you stay away from it."- Frans Nielsen
Nielsen continued his career overseas signing with Eisbären Berlin of DEL. In 33 games, he scored 12 goals and 15 assists, and in 12 games in the postseason, he scored four goals and three assists. Nielsen was also named to Team Denmark at the 2022 IIHF Men's World Championships. He scored no points in seven games. Denmark went 4-3-0.
Nielsen will now start his new journey by helping develop players in the Kraken system. If nothing else, Seattle has a good shot at being much better in the shootout moving forward.