Frans Nielsen: A Chronicle of the NHL’s Most Underrated Center

Kevin Schultz

Frans Nielsen is not properly rated, this we can say conclusively. Whatever rating system that people are using to rate him has not been working. This is because for the past two-plus year people have been saying Nielsen is underrated. Why are these raters not rating him properly? What’s their angle? Is someone paying them to keep the Dane from his proper rating?

nielsenNo one seems to know. But they do know that he is not properly rated by whatever rating system people are using to rate hockey players these days.

First New York had to endure Mark Sanchez’s poise. Now there is Frans Nielsen’s underrated-ness.


Our story appears to start on January 31, 2011. An NHL player poll conducted by Sports Illustrated calls Nielsen the second most underrated player in the league behind Loui Eriksson. Prior to January 2011, it is tough to find a reference in the mainstream media as to whether or not Nielsen is rated accordingly. Is this where it all began? Is this the talking point that is our smoking gun?

February 17, 2011: Dobber Hockey calls Nielsen an “underrated Dane” and a big part of the Isles surge that season.

March 31, 2011: ESPNNewYork.com chimes back in to remind us that Nielsen “might be the most underrated player in the NHL.” The same writer, Mike Hume, forgets about the players poll he reported on two months earlier calling Nielsen the second most underrated player in the NHL.

July 7, 2011: Lighthouse Hockey says, more specifically, that is it his offensive skills that are “underrated by most.”

August 1, 2011: Blog Puck Puck Goose calls Nielsen the most underrated player in the league.

August 21, 2011: Eyes on Isles calls Nielsen one of the most underrated centers in the league.

August 25, 2011: Bleacher Report rates Nielsen among the 25 most underrated players that their SEO bots came up with. He is also a “shinning” star, whatever that means.

Frans Nielsen is a very underrated player and a shinning (sic) star on an Islander team that is often buried by the media.

September 2, 2011: Kukla’s Korner opines about Nielsen’s underrated-ness.

Hopefully the Islanders can re-sign their must underrated player and keep him around for the long-term.

Spoiler: they do.

October 5, 2011: HF Boards convenes a special emergency meeting of posters to try and show proper appreciation and rating for Nielsen. Some important points from the meeting. All quotes are sic’d:

“Anybody else out there think this guy is underrated?”

“Yes. But its getting to the point that he is the sexy underrated pick and therefore he is overrated.”

“By HFBoards, probably not. By the general hockey public, definitely.”

“i think hes overrated at being underated.”

“He WAS underrated, but this last season has opened some eyes.”

OK, so now we do know a couple things. First, that HF Boards is properly rating Nielsen while the rest of us may not be. There is no analysis from HF to tell us how we can adjust our ratings accordingly. Secondly, the meeting also establishes that, after 10 months of underrated-ness, the tide is starting to swing back in the other direction. The backlash could be taking shape.

January 12, 2012: Nielsen drops from 2nd to 9th in Sports Illustrated’s ranking of underrated players. Loui Eriksson retains his top spot. The backlash of Nielsen’s underrating is in full swing.

February 8, 2012: Nielsen signs a four-year extension to stay on Long Island. A TSN commenter helpfully points out his underrated abilities. A HockeyFights.com commenter thankfully clears everything up by saying “he really is one of the most underrated NHLers I see.”

August 29, 2012: CBS Sports calls Nielsen the most underrated player in the NHL.

April 5, 2013: Washington’s Braden Holtby tells the WA Post that the entire Islanders team is underrated. THE VIRUS IS SPREADING. WE WERE WRONG TO ASSUME THE TIDE HAD CHANGED. SEND HELP.

April 18, 2013: James Mirtle notes that Nielsen is underrated in a Maple Leafs/Isles game preview.

May 1, 2013: In previewing the Isles/Pens series, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says that Nielsen is a underrated defensive player.

May 9, 2013: ProHockeyTalk calls Nielsen underrated when describing a lower body injury he suffered. But did they properly rate the injury?

May 11, 2013: RotoWorld determines that you should put this “underrated two-way player with solid scoring ability… in your lineup.”

June 3, 2013: A slight curveball; Rant Spots calls Nielsen “underappreciated.” Please make sure you show your Nielsen appreciation properly.

September 12, 2013: USA Today notes that Nielsen and Andrew MacDonald are among the NHLs Top 10 most underrated players. What is this list that they speak of?

September 18, 2013: UKAmericanSportsFans.com — whatever that is — calls Nielsen “criminally underrated.” Please notify the authorities as to any sports fans and/or writers that underrate Nielsen.

October 4, 2013: In an Islanders season preview Justin Bourne calls… Matt Moulson and Andrew MacDonald underrated. No mention of Nielsen. What the hell?

October 16, 2013: In an interview on TSN1260 in Canada, teammate Josh Bailey calls Nielsen underrated. It has now become a player’s talking point and thus, is now literally the most generic talking point that everyone will use now and forever whenever Frans Nielsen is discussed.

With so many people noticing that Frans Nielsen is underrated, it’s really amazing that after two-plus years of being underrated that he is still not properly rated. Maybe someday. Damned ratings people.




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