DETROIT – The Red Wings have the cap space and now they are starting to use it.
Although they did not manage to land Steven Stamkos, who decided to stay with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Wings did attract one of the remaining top available players when the NHL’s free-agency period opened Friday afternoon.
As teams began to announce the signings of new players, the Wings joined the action by agreeing to a six-year contract with former New York Islanders center Frans Nielsen.
TSN had Nielsen ranked third among unrestricted free agents not named Stamkos.
The 32-year-old Nielsen was the Islanders' third-pick, No. 87 overall, in the 2002 NHL draft.
Last season Nielsen had 20 goals and 32 assists with a plus-1 rating in 81 games for the Islanders in the regular season. His 52 points would have been tops on the Wings last season.
In 11 playoff games, Nielsen had three goals and three assists.
Nielsen is one of just 12 players from Denmark to have played in the NHL. With 606 games, the Herning, Denmark native has played in more games than any other Danish player.
USA Today hockey writer Kevin Allen said Nielsen is "highly respected around the league, because he contributes as a penalty killer, skilled offensive player and is a savvy defensive forward."
Nielsen is also pretty good on the draw, winning around 50 percent of his face-offs throughout his career.
Nielsen has also been a fairly durable player, playing in 81, 78, 80, 48 (lockout season) and 82 games in the last five seasons.