Dealin' With Nielsen; Isles Center Signs Four-Year Extension
The New York Islanders officially announced today that they have signed two-way center Frans Nielsen to a four-year contract extension with their hockey team. According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, as the story leaked throughout the Twitter world last night during the Islanders game vs. the Philadelphia Flyers, the contract is worth an affordable $11 million. (Photo Credit: Robert Kowal/Flickr)
Kudos to GM Garth Snow who has done an excellent job of locking up the organization's youngest and brightest talent. Nielsen now joins a crew of players that includes Michael Grabner, Kyle Okposo and John Tavares; these four will be wearing an Islanders jersey, at the minimum, for the next four years.
Now if only Garth could get some UFA's in the summer time to help his club take the next step...but that's for another day.
Nielsen has emerged from a fourth line center to one of the league's best two-way forwards and one of the most underrated players in the game of hockey. He quietly shuts down the top of opponents of other teams on a nightly basis, effectively kills penalties and is the best player in the shootout amongst skaters that have shot a minimum of ten times in their career. His famous backhand has made him a lethal threat to any team.
Last year Nielsen had a career year in goals, assists and points (13-31-44) and led the league in shorthanded goals with seven. He currently has nine goals, 16 assists and 25 points, putting him on pace for a 39-point season. He has become one of the most valuable players to the core of the team as both a leader on and off the ice and will continue to serve the Islanders very well over the next four years.
The question now becomes, "who will Garth sign next?" If you look to the core, one would have to assume that P.A. Parenteau is the likely candidate, although Tony Stabile of Hockey This Week expects it to be Evgeni Nabokov. Signing Nabby to an extension would probably indicate that DiPietro's days are numbered, but this is all speculation at this point. DP is actually on record saying that he has never considered retirement and Snow has stated that he believes that Ricky can play. Whether or not those opinions change this off-season will remain to be seen.
But there's little argument in saying that Parenteau and Nabokov are the team's most valuable impending free agents that are still without a contract for next season. With the trade deadline quickly approaching, it will be interesting to see which players Snow retains, and which he looks to deal.