Call it premature if you like, because it probably is, but seeing that Gustav Nyquist is manning the point on the power play for Detroit’s game against Columbus during tonight’s prospect duel get’s me even more excited that this highly extolled Swede is in the Detroit system. I found it a bit odd that the Hobey Baker finalist opted to go the college hockey route, instead of honing his skills in Elitserien (Swedish Elite League). However, putting my own prejudice against university hockey aside, I am unable to deny that many fine NHL regulars have gone through the college ranks. The fact that he nearly captured the Hobey Baker accolade is even more reassuring. A very strong case can be made that the finest players in the world call towns like Stockholm and Sundsvall their homes.
What the Swedes cede to the Russians is flash and excitement, but they more than compensate for this with their soundness, and tenacity. Art Regnar, a very astute hockey man himself, would point this out to his listeners regularly; this high aptitude for solid hockey amongst the Swedish ranks. What a terrific twist of fate for us in Hockeytown, to be witnesses to the Russian Five and then, almost a decade later, the Swedish Seven.
Here are some scouting observations regarding Nyquist: ”Outstanding two-way hockey sense … Extremely hard worker … Intense … Persistent and diligent in puck pursuit … Capable of stripping an opponent of the puck … Effective penalty killer … Always moves his feet … Pushes the pace offensively and doesn’t give up on plays … Loves to attack with the puck and can intimidate defenders … Outstanding set-up man who excels on the power play.”
This should sound familiar to some of you. It certainly does to me. Reading the reports on Nyquist, I am reminded of another Swede who joined the Red Wings in the 2002-2003 season. Can you guess who? Here is a tiny hint: His name is Henrik Zetterberg. Now I am not saying that Nyquist is the next Zetterberg. Typically, I try and steer away from saying someone is the next someone. But the similarities seem to be there, and of course, Nyquist has named Hank as one of his inspirations. As Red Wings fans, we should be grateful that our miners in Europe, have apparently, found another hidden gem.