I know I made a: “Why Frans Nielsen is an above average-great 2nd line center, and capable for that role on even a playoff team” months ago, but since we are talking so much about the future right now, I wanted to express the importance of extending nielsen and keeping him around for the future “cup run”. Starting off by saying, he is only 27yrs old and his 2-way abilities aren’t going to drastically decline for a few years easily, barring major injury.
I know some people "dislike" the idea of Nielsen as a 2nd line center, but the man is honestly by all means a 2nd line center. Being a +13 last year on a basement nhl team, facing top 6 competition, and having excellent corsi numbers, shows by all means the man can be a 2nd line center on a stanley cup team. That also means, Nielsen “can” line up against the Getzlaf’s and Sedin’s of the world and shut them down(as we’ve seen in past games). Nielsen is that good, and if you give him a top 6 checking winger, he can likely perform miracles. Offense this, mumbo jumbo that, Nielsen is an "elite" 2nd line center. He will be extremely valuable to this team's future if we can extend him for 4/5yrs. Everyone says, "Bailey should be the future 2nd line center", I don't see that happening but it could. That said, Bailey would have to become one hell of a player to fill in Nielsen’s shoes. They say Strome is the future 2nd line center, he could be, is a wildcard right now, but that’s a big way’s away and it’s better safe than sorry. Not to mention, it should be at least 2 or 3yrs for Strome to show he’s capable of being a 2nd line center or not. 3rdly, Nielsen is excellent to have around no matter what the circumstances. Nielsen being used in a checking line role allows all other lines to face easier competition. Example: Anisimov on the rangers, a solid checking center, allows Gaborik/Richards to play “3rd line competition”/easier-competition, by taking the toughest forward assignments on the team or another example would be the Nucks Malhotra playing against top line while the Sedins get easier competition to excel at. This also allows Sedins/gaborik-Richards to score more pts/goals vs 3rd lines then they would against opposing top lines. Thus, increasing our offense to another level with opportune use of elite defense. In other words, there is no true logical reason at all to not resign Nielsen for 4-5yrs or “use” him as our 2nd line center given his effectiveness at the position.
Below is the fanpost stuff I am mostly repeating from my previous Nielsen fanpost to show for more evidence:
1-His defensive abilities are ELITE.
Any person eligible for Selke candidate votes is usually a great defensive forward, and Nielsen is no exception. His size does limit him “at times”, but not much. His speed, hands, and smarts make him an excellent shutdown/2-way 2nd line center for even playoff teams. Not to mention, he is an excellent PKer, leading all centers (and forwards for that matter) in shorthanded goals and points last year with 7 and 8 respectably. Calling him a defensive mastermind and shorthanded specialist fits him perfectly. So there is easily a case for Nielsen being one of the best defensive centers/forwards in the NHL.
2-Nielsen is offensively adequate enough to be an above average offensive 2nd line center(and
forward for that matter).
Nielsen had a full season equivalent 15goals/48pts season last year. When compared to the other centers and forwards, he would rank 38th offensively among centers(equivalent to an above-average offensively 2nd line center) or rank 93rd among all forwards(equivalent to a well-above average 2nd line forward offensively or borderline 1st line forward).
3-He isn’t as undersized as people think.
Sure, 6’ 187lbs isn’t average sized for nhl forwards, but did you know that other good top 6 forwards like: M.Ribeiro(6’ 179lbs), M.Grabovski(5’11’’ 183lbs), D.Roy(5’9’’ 184lbs), S.Stamkos(6’1’’ 188lbs), H.Sedin(6’2’’ 188lbs), P.Datsyuk(5’11’’ 194lbs), P.Bergeron(6’2’’ 194lbs), M.Richards(5’11’’ 195lbs), B.Richards(6’ 195lbs), T.Oshie(5’11’’ 195lbs), and J.Pavelski(5’11’’ 195lbs) are similar in size to Nielsen? Pretty good company there size wise. So size should be of little concern as shown by nhl comparable centers.
4-Nielsen’s faceoff ability is of top 6 center quality(albeit it a little sub-par for a 2nd line center last year, but likely average overall).
His 46.2% faceoff win percentage isn’t as bad as it looks. 96th in the NHL in faceoffs for centers(that played more then 60gms last year), and more importantly, 54th in the NHL in faceoffs for centers that played more then 16min/gm last year(cutoff for top 6 centers I’d go with). So that makes Nielsen a bit subpar as a 2nd line center for taking faceoffs, but still a capable 2nd line faceoff center. And to add to this, last year Nielsen had a 50% faceoff win percentage, and 47.2% the year before that. So just looking at Nielsen’s track record, I’d say it’s fair to believe he is around average quality as a 2nd line center for taking faceoffs when he is healthy and on his game.
5-Nielsen has been doing all this against 1st line-in between 2nd and 1st line competition, and Corsi says he's been “ELITE” at it.
Running through his corsi numbers and relative quality of competition, he has faced tough top 6 competition the last 2 seasons and was very successful in doing so. His corsi has been one of the best on the team the last couple years among forwards while facing some of the toughest competition on the team and taking a lot of defensize zone starts. Things that are very good for a top 6 center and shows he deserves the 2nd line center position.
In summary, Nielsen is a great 2nd line center because he is an elite defensive center, above average offensively for the position, isn’t as undersized as you would think, is capable enough at faceoffs to be responsible as a 2nd line center, and has already done all this against top quality competition and succeeded well at doing it(corsi). Anyone doubting Nielsen’s abilities to fulfill a 2nd line center role on a great team should be dismissed. The Great Dane is capable enough overall for the job, and according to numbers is elite enough at it to be a 2nd line center on a Stanley cup team. The "need" for a 2nd line center on this team is overstated with JT/Nielsen as a top 6 center duo, there are a lot more spots on this roster that deserve an upgrade over our 2nd line center position.
All that said, if we can’t resign Nielsen before March/the trade deadline, we need to ship his ass out for compensation. It is a HUGE mistake to let a player of Nielsen’s caliber on a team with no playoff shot to walk for nothing. He is a player team’s move a 1st round pick for. He is a player a team would move a mid-pair D prospect for as a rental. He is a game-changing center. If we don’t extend him by March 1st and he isn’t traded, I will be extremely disappointed in Garth.
Thoughts, comments, etc?