This week, the Eastern Edge views Frans Nielsen and Andrew MacDonald to see how they rate so far in this young season.

Last week I watched a New York Islanders game where Frans Nielsen really showed me that he has some serious skill. Then later on in the week, I watched another Isles game where he wasn't quite as noticeable. That said, let's delve into the numbers and see what the crystal ball has in store for Nielsen's fantasy-worthiness index.


Over the past two seasons, Nielsen has finished fourth in team scoring after John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Brad Boyes/P.A. Parenteau (a.k.a. JT's other wingman). The 29-year-old Danish center scored at a 50 point pace last season, recording 29 points in 48 games. The year before that he finished with a career best 47 points and in 2010-11, he scored 44 points in 71 games, a 51 point pace.


This season, Nielsen is off to a fantastic start, recording points in six of eight games so far, while receiving the third most average time on ice (18:22) amongst forwards, after Tavares and Kyle Okposo. He is also playing on the top power play unit, garnering an average of 3:30 minutes per game. Three of his eight points have come with the man advantage.


Last year, Nielsen finished with the sixth most average power play time per game and the season before, he had the fifth most on the team. That resulted in his best campaign to date, scoring 15 of his 47 points via the power play.


Another indicator people like to use to forecast performance is shooting percentage. So far this season, Nielsen is shooting a career high 0.222. His career average is 0.096. He is also on course to surpass his career best in shots on goal of 156, with a 185 shot pace.


What about Michael Grabner's two game suspension potentially affecting Nielsen? According to Frozen Pool, Nielsen has taken 74 per cent of his even-strength shifts with Josh Bailey and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Nielsen is owned in only 21 per cent of Yahoo! leagues.



When Lubomir Visnovsky was knocked out of Sunday's match against Carolina, it was Andrew MacDonald who logged a season high 30:25 minutes. More importantly, he played 5:18 minutes on the power play. Those additional minutes paid dividends as he recorded his first point (assist) of the season, which was scored on the man advantage.


The Isles power play scored twice in five opportunities, so look for the man advantage units to stay the same for at least another game or two. For those thinking Matt Donovan will get a shot at showing what he can do on the power play, he has only played in five of the Islanders eight games and was a healthy scratch for the Carolina game where Visnovsky was concussed.


Even when Donovan is in the line-up, he is only receiving an average of 15:53 minutes per game, including 1:21 with the man advantage. He started the year by playing 19:34 minutes in his first game, but has struggled to earn more ice time. In the game before his healthy scratch, Donovan recorded 13:32 minutes of ice time.


In writing a piece (Eastern Conference Sleepers) for Dobber's annual guide, I opined than MacDonald might be an attractive value pick in salary-capped leagues due to his potential to fill in on the power play. Last season, MacDonald received more ice time than anyone on the roster and the third most power play time on the team amongst defensemen behind Streit and Visnovsky.


Another statistic that may surprise, is that heading into last night's action, MacDonald led the entire NHL in blocked shots with 26. If you are in a deep league, especially a salary-capped one, MacDonald might be a decent short term fill-in while Visnovsky is on the injured reserve.

Recently from Eastern Edge:


A Pair of Wings and a Sabre 
East Coast Waiver Gems: Value Vets
My Industry Experts League Draft Experience 
Eastern Conference Picks to Click 

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Comments (4)add comment

Sovereign said:

MacD He often shows glimmers and is a good fill in.
I have used hoth he and Nielsen on my teams and they have rarely disappointed

Mac D is great in this capacity. And remains a bit obscure because he is relatively unknown. Almost always availahle when desired. Nielsen is the same. Good IR plugs or bottom line guys for points on the cheap.

(In salary leagues)
October 23, 2013
Votes: +0

Russ Miller said:

The Comish
... Isle B. - thanks for the additional info!

Otto2000 - Yeah, sometimes you get lucky with your timing. Nielsen has certainly put up the points so far this year. I was also going to write on Tomas Plekanec and how it would be a good time to pick him up...two points tonight...window will close fast.

Thanks guys, your comments are always appreciated.
October 22, 2013
Votes: +0

Otto2000 said:

... And a big night from Nielsen ensues. Nice write-up!
October 22, 2013
Votes: +0

Isle B. said:

Isle B.
... One important note about Nielsen. He almost always played the point on the first power play unit before Visnovsky arrived. With both Streit and Visnovsky on the team last season, Nielsen was bumped down to the 2nd unit (as the center). Now with Streit gone, Nielsen is once again playing the point on the top power play unit.

Donovan will replace Visnovsky in the lineup, but MacDonald will definitely replace Visnovsky on the power play. He already did it in the game on Saturday and the power play was clicking (nothing else was, but that's another story).
October 22, 2013
Votes: +1
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