Could become first Danish-born player in NHL history
The Islanders have signed 2002 third round draft pick Frans Nielsen to a two-year contract. The talented Nielsen, born in Herning, Denmark, could become the first-ever Danish-born player to play in the NHL.
"Since we drafted him, Frans has shown the commitment and dedication that now has him at the level of a strong NHL prospect," said Islanders Chief European scout Ryan Jankowski. "He's a very smart player, a responsible player, and he skates extremely well. With some proper fine-tuning in our system and continued hard work from him, Frans can become an important player for us at the NHL level."
The 6-0, 195-pound Nielsen was born in Denmark on April 24, 1984. Quickly out-growing the competition in his native country by the age of 17, Nielsen transferred to the Swedish Elite League. He spent his first four SEL seasons in the Malmo IF Redhawks organization before joining Timra IF for the 2005-06 season. Nielsen was Timra's fourth-leading scorer this past season with five goals and 13 assists for 18 points. In his 216-game SEL career, Nielsen has recorded 25 goals and 34 assists for 59 points and 66 penalty minutes.
Nielsen started to turn heads at the 2004 World Hockey Championships, where he led the improving Denmark hockey program to a win in the Preliminary Round and finished the tournament with three assists in six games. More recently at the 2006 World Championships, Nielsen scored a goal in a near-upset over Canada. Team Denmark's tournament ends today.
Nielsen, who was selected 87th overall in 2002, will join the team for training camp in September.
"This is a big day for me," Nielsen said today. "It is a very proud moment, signing a contract with the Islanders and officially starting my dream of making it to the National Hockey League. I have worked very hard for this. I'm looking forward to being a part of the Islanders organization."
- As a 16-year-old, played for Herning IK of the Danish League during the 2000-01 season. He was one of the best players in the league with nearly a point per game average.
- After agreeing to play for the Malmo junior team in 2001-02, impressed the coaching staff in training camp and earned a spot with the senior team to start the season.
- While playing for the Malmo junior team in the postseason, tallied 10 points in just seven games (3+7).
- As an 18-year-old, made his World Championship debut with Denmark in 2002.
- Was second in scoring at the 2004 World Junior Championships, recording eight goals and adding three assists in five games.
- At the 2004 World Championships, led Denmark to a win in the Preliminary Round and finished the tournament with three assists in six games.
- At the 2006 World Championships, scored a goal versus Canada.