Frans Nielsen (born April 24, 1984) is a Danish professional ice hockey player for the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League (NHL). He spent the first 10 years of his NHL career playing with the New York Islanders.
He is the first Danish citizen to play in the NHL.
Nielsen was drafted by the New York Islanders in the third round, 87th overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. After playing in the Swedish Elitserien since 2001, Nielsen signed a two-year contract with the New York Islanders on May 15, 2006. He has also played for the Danish national team.
With over 216 games in the Elitserien, Nielsen recorded 25 goals and 34 assists for 59 points and 66 penalty minutes.
Nielsen started the 2006–07 AHL season with the Islanders' affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, and was recalled to the Islanders on January 5, 2007. He made his NHL debut on January 6. At the time of his recall, he had recorded a point in nine consecutive American Hockey League (AHL) games, which was three games shy of the Sound Tigers' club record.
During the 2010–11 NHL season Nielsen scored a league-leading seven short-handed goals, including two penalty shot goals in three-on-five shorthanded situations. Near the end of the 2010–11 NHL season Islanders' Captain Doug Weight was quoted as saying of Nielsen “He’s our best all-around player even though his stats don’t necessarily show it". On February 7, 2012, Nielsen signed a four-year, $11 million contract with the Islanders.
Nielsen holds the distinction of being the most successful NHL player all-time in shootouts (i.e., scoring percentage among players with a substantial number of shootout attempts). In fact, he scored a goal in a shootout prior to being credited with his first official NHL goal. His signature move in the competition has been dubbed the "Danish Backhand of Judgement", though he has also scored using his forehand. As of March 2013, he has a success rate of 62.5%.
On October 25, 2014, he recorded his first career NHL hat trick against Anders Lindbäck of the Dallas Stars by scoring all three goals in the third period.
On July 1, 2016, Nielsen signed as a free agent to a 6-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings, marking the end of his 10-year tenure with the Islanders.