Vancouver Canucks Free Agency: Top 7 Centers to Target

Jan 5, 2016; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 5, 2016; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Feb 25, 2016; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders center Frans Nielsen (51) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. New York Islanders won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

No.4: Frans Nielsen

After years of playing behind star center John Tavares, New York Islanders veteran forward Frans Nielsen is now free to explore the open market. While the thought of potentially trying out as the top center for a weak team is one that could come with a massive payroll for the 32-year-old, a contract extension to stay with the Islanders organization is still a realistic option.

Height / Weight: 6-foot-1, 188 lbs
Age: 32
2015-16 Stats: 81 GP — 20 Goals — 32 Assists — 52 Points
2015-16 Salary: $3.5 million
Expected UFA Salary: $5.5 million

Frans Nielsen is a good playmaker who is sleek and versatile. As one of the most underrated players of the game, Nielsen functions well in virtually all situations that he asked to play in, as the set-up man on the powerplay or as the Brandon-Sutter type of player who is effective at killing penalties; and like Sutter, Nielsen is a little fragile.

The primary issue obviously is age. Nielsen has no chance of finding himself a place in the Canucks lineup that already boasts Bo Horvat and Sutter. Unlike other players on the list, he does not have a history of playing on the wings. Had Nielsen been a winger of equal resume, he could have been a must-grab for the Canucks that could bolster the top-six big time.

That being said, if fellow Dane Jannik Hansen does not mind giving Nielsen a nudge to become a winger, the Canucks will have a proven top-six playmaker who could very much be the catalyst that makes a guy like Anton Rodin work.

Hard to see a situation develop that would allow the Canucks to sign Nielsen, but if there is anything else that pops up between now and July 1st Free Agency Frenzy, Nielsen is a definite option for Vancouver.

Next: No.3: DAVID BACKES