Jan 7, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Detroit Red Wings center Gustav Nyquist (14) in action against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Red Wings 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Gustav Nyquist Riddle

Gustav Nyquist always seems to be the odd-man-out when it comes to the Detroit Red Wings’ roster. Every time he has been called up to play, it has only been for a game or two, and then he’s sent back down.

So when it was announced yesterday that Nyquist was being sent back down to the Grand Rapids Griffins, my reaction went something like this:

Choked laughter because what else would the Red Wings do? Even if sending Nyquist down meant that Darren Helm was on the verge of returning, it still feels like a slight to Nyquist…even more so when Helm twinged his back in practice and most likely will not play in the next game.

The rookies that have been called up to fill in for the mounting injuries on the Red Wings’ roster need a contiguous amount of games to play before they really adjust to NHL play. Look at Tomas Tatar and how he shaped up after two or three games on the roster. Or Joakim Andersson – seven points in 19 games and he’s a +6.

Nyquist has played four games. He has one assist in that time and is a -1.  That is terribly disappointing for a player that had 58 points in 56 games last season for the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Nyquist is a restricted free agent at the end of this season. The Red Wings will more than likely keep their hands on him for at least another season or two, especially since it seems to be rumored that Valtteri Filppula wants an exorbitant amount of money, even despite how he’s been playing this season. And, in the moments of clarity Nyquist plays with most of the time, he is a more consistent player than Filppula. If he could just get solid playing time, he could make his mark and be a cheaper, better replacement for Filppula.

Why is Gustav Nyquist the black sheep of the Red Wings?

This has frustrated many Red Wings fans for the past few seasons. Nyquist has potential – he has the hands of Pavel Datsyuk (or as close as you can get since they cannot be replicated) and the plan-ahead, thoughtful play of Henrik Zetterberg. In his moments of brilliance, fans have witnessed what could be the next super star on the Red Wings roster.

But he’s never given a chance. Other prospects have been called up in his place. Tatar. Andersson. Jan Mursak. Someone else always seems to be ahead of him in line. It doesn’t make sense, and it never really has.

With Filppula, Dan Cleary, Damien Brunner, and Drew Miller all unrestricted free agents at the end of this season as well as Andersson and Mursak as restricted free agents (and Nyquist), Nyquist has a shot at being a full-time player on the Red Wings’ roster if any of the UFAs are not re-signed.

And with the possibility of Patrick Eaves unable to play in Wednesday’s game against the Minnesota Wild, will Nyquist get the call up? (Again, my response would be Rex Banner laughing in that video up top.)

If and when his time comes to join the roster full-time, will he appreciate it, or be so fed up with the ups and downs that he’ll demand a trade, or not extend his contract?

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Tags: Detroit Red Wings Gustav Nyquist Red Wings Prospects

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