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Former Islander Frans Nielsen Hangs Up the Skates

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Frans Nielsen

Prior to the start of the 2022 IIHF World Championships, former New York Islanders forward and Denmark leader Frans Nielsen announced that the tournament would signify the end of his hockey career.

That day came Tuesday as Denmark played their seventh and final preliminary round game, losing 7-1 to Slovakia. Denmark went 4-3 in the tournament and will not be advancing.

“It’s tough right now when, you know, it’s all you know, it’s all you’ve done your whole life. It’s a weird feeling,” Nielsen said following the game Tuesday. “I know I took the right one and, you know, I’m looking forward to spend more time with the family and the kids, but it’s emotional right now.”

Here is the complete interview:

Frans Nielsen has always been a competitor.

After being selected by the New York Islanders in the third round  (87th overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Level Draft, Nielsen made his NHL debut on Jan. 6, 2007.

He scored his first legitimate NHL goal in his 14th career game against the Montreal Canadiens.

I used the word “legitimate” as that was not his first goal at the NHL level. A game earlier, against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Frans Nielsen scored in the shootout.

Over his time on the island, that backhand move defined him. In shootouts, Nielsen became so good at that move that the opposing netminder knew it was coming, yet it could not be stopped.

Out of 21 players in the history of the NHL shootout to take 80 or more shots, Frans Nielsen’s 46.23 scoring percentage ranks third-best. His 106 shots rank sixth-highest all time. His 49 shootout goals is tied for second all-time with Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane, both trailing Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, who has 51.

23 of Frans Nielsen’s goals were the deciding goals in the shootout, the best all-time. Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie sits tied with Kane, each with 21.

Frans Nielsen spent 10 seasons as a member of the New York Islanders, recording 119 goals and 230 assists in 606 regular-season games. Over those 10 seasons, the Islanders made the playoffs three times, where Nielsen notched four goals and six assists in 24 games.

Following the 2015-16 season, Nielsen signed a six-year, $31.5 million deal with the Detroit Red Wings. He played five seasons before the final year of his contract was bought out in August of 2021.

That was the last season Nielsen played in the NHL as he joined Eisbären Berlin of DEL, the top league in Germany. He netted 12 goals and recorded 15 assists in 33 regular-season games before a four-goal, three-assist postseason.

On the international stage, Frans Nielsen represented Denmark nine times at the World Championships and once during the Winter Olympics, back in 2022 in Beijing, China.

Frans Nielsen, regardless of where his team was in the standings, always showed the passion he had for the game. Whether it was winning big face-offs, scoring nifty goals in the shootout, Nielsen was an exciting player to watch.

It was a grind of a career and one that Frans Nielsen should be very proud of.

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