Word filtered out as the Islanders were getting ready to take on the Flyers in Philadelphia. TSN's Bob McKenzie broke the news, then followed up with the yearly breakdown: $2.75 million cap hit, with sequential salaries of $2M, $2.5M, $3M and $3.5M. (The Islanders confirmed an agreement during the first intermission, announcement planned tomorrow.)
This is fantastic news for the Islanders, and an excellent deal for a pending unrestricted free agent who remains at age 27 one of the best defensive centers in the league: Nielsen annually takes on the opposition's toughest lines -- and puts in fantastic PK work -- and comes out ahead. Nielsen would have been difficult to replace, but this ensures the Islanders do not have to break the bank in a futile attempt to do just that.
(Quick reference: The less valuable Joel Ward signed as a UFA with Washington last summer as a center for four years, $12 million. The older Manny Malhotra signed a three-year, $7.5 million UFA deal with Vancouver two summers ago. Neither is as gifted offensively as Nielsen, who has averaged .5 points per game in his NHL career, to say nothing of his helpful shootout prowess.)
Nielsen's current deal (four years, $2.1 million total) turned into an absolute bargain as Nielsen quickly evolved into his current role, and this one keeps Nielsen around at an affordable price through the rest of what are likely to be his best years as an NHLer.