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Grading the Islanders: Frans Nielsen, who walks on water

With the NHL back to a general post-draft, post-July 1 lull, it's high time we got to the rest of these report cards. Fortunately for yours truly, BenHasna has done much of the work on what, exactly, Frans Nielsen did for the Islanders this past year. The answer? Basically, everything.

Frans made every player he played with better. To borrow Frans' language about John Tavares: Oh, sick. You know Frans, that what he do.

It's not just that Nielsen made all of his teammates better. It's that he did it while facing the second-toughest competition on the team. (Only the near-overused Kyle Okposo drew tougher assignments, and that's only by a hair.)

Let me put it another way: On a team that was outscored by 42 goals, Nielsen had the second-highest plus-minus on the team while facing the toughest opponents night-in, night-out. Oh, and he was also the team's fifth-highest scorer (psst: That's without the benefit of any PP goals, by the way). Oh, and while facing the opponents' best he accumulated exactly six penalty minutes. Six! Do you realize how insane that is? Do you know how many NHL centers couldn't check a mite team for 76 games without taking more than three penalties? Should I even bother mentioning the shootout? Because his 7 conversions on 12 attempts led the team, and sadly shootouts matter in this league.

This, dear reader, is why I've raved about Frans like a fanboy the last two seasons. Complain about his 12-goal output if you must, but the fact is he's doing yeoman's work out there, and he's doing it better than anyone else on the team. For a salary of $525,000. Extending him at that rate through 2011-12 may have been the best contract decision Garth Snow will ever make.

Bonus: His dad was kind of a big deal with getting Danish hockey pointed in the right direction. Thank you, Mr. Nielsen, for your genes and your Frans.

Frans Nielsen

#51 / Center / New York Islanders



Apr 24, 1984

2 + 2 partials

$525k salary through 2011-12

7.0 (10-pt. scale)

"Frans, I think I love you. Seriously. I got it bad."

GP G A P +/- PIM PPG FO% TOI PPtoi SHtoi Sh%
2009-10 - Frans Nielsen 76 12 26 38 +4 6 0 50% 17:12 2:56 1:58 8.8

The Poem

While others are chasing glory
Trying to be the central story
Frans quietly plods along
Making sure 5-on-5 is hunky-dory

His backhand deke is best in the biz
You know it's coming, yet wham -- there it is
But Frans' strength is more than a skills contest:
It's pure hockey, best on best

It's taken some a while to see the light:
Fifty-one's a joy to watch night after night
In both zones, he cover all oversight
If lovin' Danes is wrong, baby I don't wanna be right

The Grade

If you're new to this report card drill, you vote a grade for the player based on how he measured up to your preseason expectations. So if you expected him to be a 40-goal scorer, you're a delusional #@$%ing fool, but you grade him low. If you didn't realize just how much ol' minimum-wage Frans brought to the team, you grade him high. And if you found your 2009-10 Frans porridge to be juuuuust right, you grade him a 5 or a 6.

Thanks for playing. Your praise and/or criticism is welcome in comments.