Frans Nielsen
Frans Nielsen
35-Year-Old CenterC
Detroit Red Wings
Injury Concussion
Est. Return 9/1/2019
2018 Fantasy Outlook
The NHL's all-time leader with 48 shootout goals has seen a precipitous decline in fantasy utility since joining the Red Wings as an unrestricted free agent in July of 2016. Nielsen's prime years were spent in New York as a complement to puck prodigy John Tavares, but he's since had to settle for a third-line role where shots are generally hard to come by. In fact, the Dane only averaged 1.69 shots per game in 2017-18 for his lowest clip in six years, a trend exacerbated by Wings coach Jeff Blashill's preference of starting Nielsen in the defensive zone 56.1 percent of the time at even strength. It's not all doom-and-gloom for Nielsen, as he remains an important special teams weapon who registered seven power-play points (four goals, three assists) and struck twice with a bonus apple in shorthanded situations last season, but his ceiling is rather low as a 34-year-old center on a Detroit team that hasn't finished in the top half of the league in scoring since 2014-15. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a six-year, $31.5 million contract with the Red Wings in July of 2016.
Season cut short
CDetroit Red Wings
April 2, 2019
Nielsen (concussion) will miss the final three games of the 2018-19 campaign, Dana Wakiji of the Red Wings' official site reports.
Detroit's premier utility forward finishes with 10 goals and 25 assists -- including eight power-play assists and a shorthanded helper -- over 72 games. Nielsen has three years remaining on a $5.25 million AAV contract with the Red Wings, and the deal also includes a modified 10-team no-trade clause, so he's not likely to be moved during the 2019 NHL Draft or the summer free-agency signing period. Still, the honus will be on Nielsen to serve as a key mentor for Detroit's fresh crop of prospects.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Nielsen fashioned 17 goals -- including a pair of shorthanded tallies -- to go along with 24 helpers and 15 points total on the man advantage this past season. However, even with the special-teams guru in tow, the Red Wings ranked 27th on the power play and just outside the top half of the league on the penalty kill at 80.9 percent. The no-move clause in Nielsen's contract ensured that he wouldn't be exposed to the Golden Knights in the expansion draft, and if all goes well, the Dane should stay in Motown through the 2021-22 campaign at an annual cost of $5.25 million. Fantasy owners considering Nielsen should look past his career-worst minus-19 rating from last year, as that was a byproduct of being on a team that struggled due to inexperienced defensemen and a raft of injuries. After spending 10 years with the Islanders, Nielsen transitioned rather seamlessly in Detroit in terms of offensive productivity, averaging .52 points per game, and you can bet the center won't be lost on the fantasy populace anytime soon.
Detroit lost Pavel Datsyuk in the offseason and failed to court the immensely talented Steven Stamkos, who ended up re-signing with Tampa Bay, but the addition of Nielsen should soften the blow. After spending 10 seasons with the Islanders, Nielsen hit the open market this past July and promptly inked a six-year, $31.5 million contract, keeping him in Hockeytown through age 38. GM Ken Holland loves stocking up on well-rounded veterans, and Nielsen fits the mold as a special-teams spark plug with supreme on-ice awareness, a scoring touch, and a sense of defensive responsibility. The first Danish player in NHL history, Nielsen averaged 0.57 points per game with the Isles and projects to serve as the second-line center for the Wings, making him an ideal complement to the first forward you draft.
Nielsen’s offensive production may be sliding a bit, but this lifelong Islander who’s logged more than 500 games with the embattled franchise is arguably the heart and soul of the team. Notable for looking like a great player on bad teams and content to plug away as a steady two-way player on better ones, Nielsen had another solid season in 2014-15. In 78 games -- a testament to his work ethic as he was banged up for much of the season -- Nielsen scored 14 goals and 29 assists while playing as the second-line center. His work on the power play is admirable, but his real value lies in being the team’s best penalty killer by a wide margin, once scoring a league-high seven shorthanded goals back in 2010-11. While his fantasy value may not be that high due to his willingness to do a little bit of everything, his point-scoring consistency and the improvement of his linemates should give him some value at the back end of drafts.
Nielsen had his best season to date last year with 25 goals and 33 assists, including five power play goals. He has always been considered one of the best two-way centers in the game, but this kind of offensive output was still unexpected. The Islanders are loaded at center and with the addition of Mikhail Grabovski, Nielsen is slated to center the third line. It's no secret that the Islanders are looking to trade away at least one of their forwards to add a defenseman and Nielsen could be the odd man out, as he would likely bring back the best return.
Nielsen's numbers suffered a bit last season as he only had six goals and 29 points to go along with a -3 in 48 games. Although he is one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL, his plus/minus totals can be disappointing. This has more to do with the team he plays on than his ability. At this point in time, it looks like Nielsen will center the second line, but that could change if Ryan Strome makes the team out of training camp and stays at his natural center position.
Outside of John Tavares, Nielsen may be the most valuable Islander. His numbers keep getting better each season, he's very good on faceoffs and in the defensive zone, and is as close to automatic in the shootout as a player can be. Right now he's the second line center, but once Ryan Strome is ready to make his debut he could be pushed down to the third line or possibly Strome will be moved to wing to either play on the top line with Tavares, or second line with Nielsen. Nielsen is worth a look in deeper leagues and close to one-third of his 47 points were on the power play last season.
Nielsen's numbers from last season may not be all that impressive - 13 goals, 31 assists - but he is considered one of the more underrated players in the game for his all-around play. He is very good in his own end and on faceoffs, and is one of the few Islanders to have a plus.minus above 10. He might very well be best known for his shootout ability as goaltenders seem to be helpless when he goes to his backhand. Once again, he will center the Islanders third line in 2011-12.
Nielsen is another up-and-comer in the Islanders system. Nielsen had 12 goals last season -- a slight improvement over the nine he had the season before -- but will need to continue to improve to stick with the big team. It may have taken some time but the Islanders are starting to build up some organizational depth and if Nielsen is unable to deliver then the Isles may call up someone who can.
Nielsen raised a few eyebrows in his first full season with the club. He missed over a month of action due to a leg injury, but rolled off 24 points in 40 games when he was back on the ice. His 33 points were the 5th highest on the team and his 16 power-play points were good for third on the club behind only Mark Streit and Doug Weight. As well, his plus/minus was one of the few on the team to not be at double-digits in the negative (minus-4). A lot of his success will be tied to which line (and which players) he centers.
Nielsen has had some success in the AHL the last two seasons, but did not show much in his brief stints with the Isles over the same period of time. He does have one thing that may help him get a longer look from the Islanders: chemistry with Kyle Okposo. The line of Nielsen, Okposo and Jeff Tambellini clicked when KO arrived at Bridgeport, so perhaps the team will give the trio a chance at the NHL level.
After playing the last five years in Sweden, Nielsen finally touched ice in the Islanders’ organization in 2006-07. He has great playmaking skills, and in his first stint in the AHL he added a slight scoring touch. He potted 20 goals in 54 games with Bridgeport, and if he continues to improve his scoring ability, the Isles will call his number at some point this season.
Nielsen will play in Bridgeport of the AHL for the 2006-07 season.
More Fantasy News
Not expected to play Sunday
CDetroit Red Wings
March 31, 2019
Nielsen (concussion) is unlikely to suit up for Sunday's game against Boston.
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Ruled out Friday
CDetroit Red Wings
March 29, 2019
Nielsen (concussion) won't be iced against the Devils on Friday, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports.
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In concussion protocol
CDetroit Red Wings
March 28, 2019
Nielsen left Thursday's 5-4 win over Buffalo to be evaluated for a potential concussion, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports.
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Exits with apparent injury
CDetroit Red Wings
March 28, 2019
Nielsen left Thursday's 5-4 overtime win over the Sabres after suffering an undisclosed injury, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports.
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Bulges twine
CDetroit Red Wings
March 20, 2019
Nielsen found twine in Tuesday's 3-2 win over the Rangers.
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