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Islanders great Frans Nielsen set to retire from professional hockey

EHC Red Bull Muenchen v Eisbaeren Berlin - DEL Playoff Final Game 2
EHC Red Bull Muenchen v Eisbaeren Berlin - DEL Playoff Final Game 2 / Adam Pretty/GettyImages
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It's been a busy year for former New York Islanders center Frans Nielsen. But this will be the last one from the third-round pick in 2002 by the Islanders. Nielsen will retire at the end of the IIHF World Championships this month.

A release from his German club indicated that Neilsen will hang up his skates after the Worlds, which are set to take place this May in Finland. Capping off not just a big year for Frans, but more importantly a hell of a career.

New York Islanders great Frans Nielsen set to retire from hockey

Taken 87th overall by the Isles in 2002 he was, at the time, the highest-drafted Danish-born player in the NHL. Since then, a few Danes have taken that title from Frans (Eller in 2007 and then Ehlers in 2014). Not that Frans will mind.

In 925 games at the NHL level through 15 years between the Islanders and Red Wings, Nielsen scored 167 goals and 473 points. His best statistical season was in 2013-14 when he scored 25 goals and 58 points. He galvanized his place at the NHL level as an effective two-way second-line center that performed just as well offensively as defensively.

But if there was anywhere that Nielsen shined it was in the shootout. That gimmick we all love to hate was Frans's specialty. Nielsen is third in NHL history for shootout goals with 49, only Jonathan Toews has more at 51.

Back to the point I started with; the busy year for Frans.

In August the Detroit Red Wings bought out the final year of Frans's contract. But he wasn't done with the game so he headed to Germany to play for the Berlin Polar Bears. He'd score 27 points in 33 games and help push the Bears to the top of the German league.

While he was doing that, Nielsen was an essential piece of the Danish national team that qualified for the Olympics. The first time the nation ever reach the Olympics. Once there, the Danes finished second in their group and made it to the quarterfinals before losing to the ROC.

After the Olympics it was back to the German league where Berlin qualified for the playoffs as the top team in the league. Nielsen put up seven points in 12 playoff games for Berlin who won the German Championship.

Stick tap to Frans as he transitions to the net phase of his life. He was a hell of a player and I'm personally glad I got to see him play. You can catch Nielsen making his final lap with the Danish squad at the IIHF World Championships in Finland from May 13 to May 29.

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