Spotlight on the Opponent: Frans Nielsen

What: Red Wings at NY Islanders
When: Saturday, November 16, 7:00pm (TV: FSD)

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It’s OK if you’d like to call Frans Nielsen “The Great Dane.”

The NY Islanders are not anything at all like the glamour team they were in the early-1980s, when they went to five straight Cup Finals and won four of them (all in a row). In fact, until they qualified for the playoffs last season, you could be excused if you were wondering if the Isles were still in the league.

Therefore, you’re also excused if Nielsen isn’t a name in your household.

But the 29 year-old center has pumped in nine goals in 20 games this season, far outpacing his career norm—a career in which Nielsen has scored 69 goals in 387 games.

Nielsen is the first Dane to ever play in the NHL—something he accomplished when he stepped onto the ice during the 2006-07 season and played in 15 games for the Islanders.

Nielsen is known for his tight checking and defense, but he does have a career high of 17 goals scored—something he did in 2011-12, when Nielsen played in every game. His play was Lady Byng-like, as Nielsen was whistled for just six penalty minutes all that season. In fact, Nielsen has racked up just 84 penalty minutes for his entire career.

Nielsen’s defensive prowess is mainly noticed during the penalty kill. In 2010-11, Nielsen led the NHL with seven short-handed goals.

Nielsen was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft (87th overall). The 6’1″, 180 pound center didn’t sign with the Isles right away; in fact, he played with the Swedish Elitserien for five years before finally signing with New York.

It was after that 2010-11 season—the one with all the shorties scored—that then-Islanders captain Doug Weight called Nielsen, “our best all-around player even though his stats don’t necessarily show it.”

Oh, one more thing: Nielsen holds the distinction of being the most successful NHL player all-time in shootouts. His signature move has been called “The Danish Backhand of Judgement.” He features a forehand version, too.

Nielsen wears no. 51 for the Islanders.

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