Feb 22: Nielsen has cleared waivers and can now be assigned to the taxi squad or minor leagues.
Feb 21: The Detroit Red Wings have put yet another veteran up for grabs. According to multiple sources, including Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Frans Nielsen is the latest name to be placed on waivers. Teams will have 24 hours to put a claim in on the 36-year-old center if they so choose. No other players have been placed on waivers today and the Anaheim Ducks’ Adam Henrique has cleared from yesterday.
Nielsen’s time on the waiver wire should go the same way it has for every skater so far this season; don’t expect him to be claimed. Yes, the flat salary cap and the league-wide crunch have influenced both waiver placements and the lack of claims so far this year, but Nielsen is different. He is coming off a career-worst season in 2019-20 and by a wide margin. Even for a historically bad Red Wings team, there was no excuse for producing nine points and a -13 rating in 60 games for a player who had totaled 33 points or more (sometimes much more) in every full season of his NHL career and received Selke Trophy votes for seven consecutive seasons earlier in his career. Nielsen’s game has fallen off tremendously and his start to the current campaign has provided no proof to the contrary. The veteran forward has three points in 18 games and is seeing a career-low in ice time.
It also doesn’t help that Nielsen’s current AAV is a whopping (relative to his production) $5.25MM and his contract extends through the 2021-22 season. If a 31-year-old Henrique, still producing at the same high level he has over his whole career, can go unclaimed at a $5.825MM AAV on a multi-year deal, it is extremely difficult to see someone taking a year and a half of a 36-year-old Nielsen who has recorded 18 points in his last 100 games dating back to the latter half of the 2018-19 season.
Detroit has waived other notable players this season like Danny DeKeyser and Alex Biega, but they have still remained involved with the team. The same goes for many other veterans around the league who have been waived to gain taxi squad flexibility but are still active participants. However, if this is the end of Nielsen as a regular in the NHL, he will be remembered for his two-way ability and consistency in all areas of his game. Unfortunately, most if not all of his best seasons and top accomplishments were in a New York Islanders jersey and his time with Detroit on a six-year, $31.5MM contract will largely be regarded as a failure.