Veteran goaltender Anders Nilsson has decided to call it a career. The 31-year-old announced his retirement on his personal Instagram, putting an end to a twelve-year pro career. Nilsson cited his ongoing battle with symptoms related to head injuries, which kept him from playing in the 2020-21 season, as prematurely ending his playing days.
Nilsson, a third-round pick of the New York Islanders in 2009, played with eleven teams in four different years in his pro career, all of whom he thanked in his announcement. A product of Swedish club Lulea, Nilsson made his debut with the Islanders in 2011-12, just two years after being drafted. He would spend three years in the organization before briefly leaving North America in 2014-15 to play for the KHL’s Ak Bars Kazan. He returned the following year to sign with the Edmonton Oilers and bounced around to the St. Louis Blues, Buffalo Sabres, Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators over just four seasons. Just when it seemed like Nilsson had finally found a long-term NHL home in Ottawa, injuries limited him and ended up costing him this past season. He was traded for the sixth and final time this past fall to the Tampa Bay Lightning, who planned to use him for Long-Term Injured Reserve purposes.
As Nilsson noted, post-concussion symptoms and neck pain forced his hand, causing him to retire at the relatively young age of 31. With 161 NHL games to his credit, Nilsson had proven himself to be a worthwhile backup, even if his career .907 save percentage and 3.06 GAA was just average. A big, composed goaltender, Nilsson was a quality depth option who likely would have extended his NHL career this off-season if not for the severity of his injuries.