Center Frans Nielsen and the Detroit Red Wings agreed to terms on a six-year contract Friday. It is worth $31.5 million, an average annual value of $5.25 million, according to ESPN.
A third-round pick (No. 87) in the 2002 NHL Draft, Nielsen was the New York Islanders' longest-tenured player. He had said during breakup day after the Eastern Conference Second Round loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning that he couldn't envision himself in another uniform.
"They [the Islanders] gave me a really fair offer," Nielsen said on Sportsnet. "And to be honest it was one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make. I think, in the end, I've been [with the Islanders] so long. I wanted to try something new, see some new people, new coaches, and you want to get better, even when you're older. This was a good opportunity for me to see something else.
Nielsen, 32, arguably is one of the best two-way players in the NHL. He's durable, can produce offensively (20 goals, 52 points in 2015-16), is an excellent penalty killer, is responsible defensively and has excellent hockey sense. As a bonus, he's the NHL leader in shootout goals (42), converts 51.2 percent of his shootout chances, and is tied for the all-time lead with 17 game-deciding goals.
"You always want to try and get better all the time," Nielsen said. "I feel I am a reliable player. I can play two-way hockey and I can kill penalties too. Even with age I can still make a difference. Maybe it's not going to be as many points in the end, but I think I can help the team in a different way, playing a shut-down role or killing penalties and still be effective in some way."
If Nielsen has a problem, it might be that he's too unselfish. He doesn't always shoot enough to keep defenses honest. He has 119 goals and 230 assists in his career.
Not many players can check off as many boxes as Nielsen. He's not a first-line center but probably has enough offensive skill (he can play the point on the power play) to center a second line; if he can be used on a third line and on special teams he'd be one of the NHL's best at his position.