Frans Nielsen -- C -- #24
6-23-29 in 48 games
Most often seen: being called the most underrated two-way player in the league by national hockey writers, to the point where he is probably now properly rated
Contract status: signed through 2015-16, $2M salary in 2012-13 ($2.75M cap hit)
Obligatory YouTube video of: what did you expect, something other than a shootout goal? (skip to 3:30 mark)
Thoughts on 2012-13: Here's kind of a weird stat about Frans Nielsen; in 2012-13, the Islanders were 17-5-4 in games that Nielsen recorded a point (playoffs and regular season). That's not really a take-it-to-the-bank sort of stat, it's more of a cute piece of trivia and an obvious statement (hockey teams win when their players score, duh). But it does shed a little light on what a offensively contributing Nielsen does for the Islanders. He provides another secondary scoring option out of the number two center spot -- something any team would like -- and he does that while being a pretty good defensive center, too.
This year Nielsen had 6 goals and 29 points in 48 games, which is 10 goals and 49 points projected over a full 82. That's right in line with his previous full season totals. It's also slightly surprising since the Bailey - Nielsen - Okposo combo finished red hot at the end of the season but none of the players had statistically exceptional years (save for Bailey's goal total) in large part due to an early season slump from each. So as good as they all finished, the whole body of work wasn't the consistency that will be needed over the longer, 82-game season.
Defensively, Nielsen's numbers weren't what they have been in the past. His corsi relative was a -9.4, which is down from 4.4 and 13.5 the previous two seasons. That's a stark departure but it's tough say he's been much worse, because he was matched up against the Islanders' toughest competition every night. His quality of competition rating was a .9, which to give you some perspective is .2 to .3 higher than the previous two years and the fifth toughest competition faced on the team. So clearly, a lot is expected of him and he is getting shifts against tough opponents every night.
Defensively, Nielsen wasn't quite the same as in the past. Hopefully that is just an aberration and does not continue into next year. Offensively the numbers are fine and right in line with previous years, but there was the early season slump to consider as well.