Frans Nielsen Deserves Selke Consideration

Frans Nielsen was drafted by the New York Islanders with the 87th pick of the third round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. The twenty-six year old center, who turns twenty-seven on April 24th, comes from Herning, Denmark, making him the only Danish born player to be drafted and play in the NHL. Like many others from the Islanders prospect pool, Nielsen came up through the ranks after starting with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and has emerged as possibly the most reliable two-way forward on the Islanders roster since Michael Peca.

He currently has 42 points on the season, a career high that continues to increase season after season. With 11 goals and 31 assists on the year, Nielsen is just one goal shy from tying a personal best that was set at 12 last season and is a plus-13. That number is indicative of his abilities to contribute offensively while becoming relied upon to shut down the team's top offensive units, which he does on a nightly basis.

With Kyle Okposo back in the line-up, Nielsen has found chemistry between him and Michael Grabner, forming one of the most threatening units on the ice for Capuano's squad. They are scary quick and seem to know where each other will be on every play in all three zones of the ice. And of course, his famous back-hand that has cashed in on 5 of 8 chances in the shootout puts him as the sixth best shooter in the league at 62.5 percent. He ranks 24th overall for current active shooters at a total of 15 out of 26 converted attempts. (And for those of you who follow him closely - yes, he has used a forehand shot in the shootout about two times this year).

Although this list of intangibles is enough to make up a solid forward for your team, Nielsen is best known for his penalty killing abilities. Typically paired with Grabner, Nielsen has become the team's best defensive forward. Not only does he shut down the opposition's top lines during five-on-five play, but he does it with ease when playing at a disadvantage. Hence the fact that six of his eleven goals on the year have come when down a man, making him the league leader for shorthanded goals. The sixth was scored last night against former teammate, Dwayne Roloson as the Islanders defeated the Tampa Lightning with a 5-2 win. In fact, that shorthanded goal was accompanied by another from guess who? Good'ol Grabner, who is second in the league with five after sending the insurance marker into the empty net while the Lightning had the man-advantage.

Nielsen is a very skilled winger who knows when to execute his offensive prowess at the right moments when the team is trying to kill off an opposing power play. He makes smart defensive decisions in his own zone and is quick to come back on defense in aide of a pinching dman or to help out in the slot. He shuts down the team's top forward lines, wears an "A" on his sweater for character and leadership, owns a nifty set of hands and is a steady second line center. If you ask me, it's about time that Nielsen, a player that other team's have called an underrated forward, gets the recognition he deserves and is nominated for the Selke Trophy this summer; the best defensive forward in the league.

-Rob McGowan

Follow me on Twitter!
http://twitter.com/IslesRM

7 Comments

Jonathan Szekeres's picture

I'm biased, but I'm pretty sure that Ryan Kesler has the selke locked up this year.

mikeybiggs's picture

Even as an Islander fan, I'm not sure he should win it, but the nomination would speak volumes.

George Prax's picture

I'm not sure. The race is way too tight this year. Kesler is a lock to be nominated, Bolland should be, Tomas Plekanec NEEDS to finally get recognized, despite missing games Datsyuk is probably going to be in there. Not to mention they might go the Datsuyk route with a couple other guys who aren't good enough for the Hart necessarily. I have trouble giving it to a player on a team that didn't even have a chance to make the playoffs but I guess it shouldn't affect this particular award. I'll take your word for it but I doubt people see enough of him to get him nominated.

Jonathan Szekeres's picture

You have to think that the three nominated are probably going to be Kesler, maybe Sharp, Bolland, maybe Datsyuk, but hasn't he missed too much time this year?

George Prax's picture
Jonathan Szekeres wrote:

You have to think that the three nominated are probably going to be Kesler, maybe Sharp, Bolland, maybe Datsyuk, but hasn't he missed too much time this year?

Ya but every year we try to make excuses for him not to get it but he still does lol. I think Malhotra would have been up there too if it wasn't for the injury.

I hope it will be:

Kesler
Plekanec
Bolland

Rob McGowan's picture

The guys you mention definitely qualify, but the fact that Nielsen leads the league in SHG, is a plus player, is having a career year, etc...is something that deserves recognition. As mentioned above, I didn't say he should necessarily win it, but be nominated. If not this year, he certainly will make a case in the years that will follow if he continues to improve his point production season after season.

And George, I understand what you are saying about a team not making the playoffs, but this is an individual award where playoffs or records shouldn't matter. And like you said, Datsyuk will probably be in there again even though he probably shouldn't be lol

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

Datsyuk will always be in the mix for it, but Kesler might walk away with it this year. Nielsen is a very underrated player in my opinion.