Nielsen shows his commitment to Long Island

The Islanders centerman signs a four-year extension and gets ready for a second-half push

Wednesday, 02.8.2012 / 5:20 PM ET / News
By Cory Wright
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Nielsen shows his commitment to Long Island
Before the ink had a chance to dry on Frans Nielsen’s four-year contract extension, the two-way center scored the game-deciding goal against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Tuesday, the Danish forward committed to Long Island through the 2015-16 season, re-upping with the only National Hockey League team he’s ever known.

“It’s a very good day for me,” Nielsen said. “I’m very proud to be here and for the next four years. They’ve really treated me really good here all the years that I’ve lived here. New York is a great city and it’s a great organization.”

Nielsen joins John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Michael Grabner and Kyle Okposo as forwards who have all signed lengthy contract extensions with the Islanders in the last year, signifying their belief in General Manager Garth Snow’s rebuild.

“I was here on day one when Garth decided to do the rebuild and I’d love to be here to see it through,” Nielsen said. “Seeing all those guys like Johnny taking the next step, I just know we are going to be good here and I really wanted to be a part of that.”

The Islanders third round pick in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Nielsen has quietly become an effective two-way center. Last season, he recorded career highs with 13 goals, 31 assists and 44 points. He also led the NHL with seven short-handed goals and finished with a team-best plus-13 rating.

After spending a decade with the organization, Nielsen could have tested free agency this summer, but instead opted to stay, reflecting the loyalty and commitment that he’s seen around him in the locker room.

“We see it everyday, you feel it in the room,” Nielsen said. “Everybody has a feeling that we are going to be really good in here and we know it.”

While the Islanders have admittedly had a tough time attracting free agents, the team has steadily rebuilt through the draft and the home-grown talent has shown no intention of leaving. It’s the same one-team philosophy that career Islanders Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin and Bobby Nystrom once had.

Nielsen’s tenure with the Islanders started in Bridgeport, where Head Coach Jack Capuano has witnessed his development from an 18-year-old rookie, to an important piece of the Islanders present and future.

“Fransie’s come a long way since Bridgeport,” Capuano said. “The main thing is his strength. He’s really increased his leg strength and his upper body strength and has made himself one of the top defensive players in this league. He also plays the power play for us, so he’s a well-rounded player and a great team guy.”

Nielsen’s versatility extends beyond his special teams play. The Herning, DK, product is the league’s best shootout specialist with a 58.8% success rate. As Ilya Bryzgalov found out Tuesday night, he’s also the Islanders ace-in-the-hole.

His patented backhand move has accounted for most of Nielsen’s 20 shootout goals. He has three game-deciders and is 4-7 this season.

Andrew MacDonald, who played with Nielsen in Bridgeport, spoke highly of his defensive prowess on the ice. 

“He’s so responsible defensively," MacDonald said. "He makes those smart, subtle plays that the average person might not realize, but as defenders, you really appreciate it. He’s becoming more and more recognized every year for his assets.”

Like Nielsen, Okposo has only played for the Islanders in his five years as a pro. They played together in Bridgeport in 2007-08 before becoming fixtures with the big club the following year.

“It’ll be nice to keep growing with this core group of guys,” Okposo said. “He’s a great person first and foremost.”

With a brand new contract come certain expectations. While Nielsen will be focused on continuing to build off of two successful campaigns (9g/16a in 52 games this season) his teammates might expect a meal or two to come their way.

“I’m not sure what I am going to do yet,” Nielsen said. “But I’m probably going to have to pay my teammates back some way.”

A game-decider in Philadelphia seems like a pretty good place to start. Where it finishes is up to the newest member of the locked-up core.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
2 x - NYR 75 47 21 7 228 177 101
3 x - TBL 77 47 23 7 249 201 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 DET 75 40 23 12 220 206 92
7 WSH 76 41 25 10 223 188 92
8 BOS 76 38 25 13 201 196 89
9 OTT 75 37 26 12 218 203 86
10 FLA 76 35 26 15 190 207 85
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 76 31 33 12 168 194 74
14 CAR 75 28 36 11 174 204 67
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 77 34 43 -2 77
R. Strome 76 16 32 20 48
K. Okposo 55 16 31 -11 47
F. Nielsen 76 14 28 8 42
B. Nelson 77 19 22 7 41
A. Lee 71 23 16 10 39
J. Bailey 65 15 23 3 38
J. Boychuk 67 8 25 9 33
N. Leddy 73 10 21 14 31
T. Hamonic 67 5 26 16 31
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 36 16 2 .913 2.42
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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