The Detroit Red Wings got valuable contributions from multiple young players during the 2013 season, but perhaps none saw their stock rise as much as Gustav Nyquist. The 23-year old Swedish forward started the campaign in Grand Rapids, but by the end of the Wings’ playoff run, he was one of their most dangerous offensive threats, even if his numbers don’t really bear that out. Let’s see how it all played out.
Looking Back At Gustav Nyquist’s 2013:
Nyquist got an 18-game taste of the NHL in 2011-12 (during which time he scored his first NHL goal), but with the Red Wings expected to be deep enough up front once the lockout was over, he stayed with the Griffins when the 2013 season got rolling. He joined the parent club briefly for one game each in January and February, but it was Tomas Tatar who stayed up through most of Detroit’s early battles with the injury bug.
That changed on March 12. With Tatar showing some flashed but not making a consistent impact, he was sent down in exchange for Nyquist, who was leading the AHL in scoring at the time with 60 points in 57 games. Once he was in Detroit, he was there for the duration. Nyquist scored his first goal of the season on March 20 against the Minnesota Wild, and he had a three-game points streak in early April.
He’d finish with three goals and three assists in 22 regular season appearances, but those stats don’t tell the whole story. Nyquist really found his groove once he began playing regularly on a line with Joakim Andersson and Damien Brunner, and the trio responded in the first round of the playoffs. Nyquist’s first career playoff goal was an overtime game-winner in Game 2 against the Anaheim Ducks, and his furious rush up ice in Game 4 ended up leaving the puck for Brunner to win that one in OT as well.
But the really telling moment came in the Red Wings’ most critical hour: Game 7 against the Chicago Blackhawks. When Valtteri Filppula was lost for the game early in the first period, it was Nyquist who Mike Babcock chose to receive most of the extra playing time, and that decision paid off when he made a nifty pass past Brent Seabrook so that Henrik Zetterberg could score the third period goal that forced overtime.
Of course the Wings came up just short against the Hawks, but Nyquist’s season wasn’t quite finished. He was one of the players who joined the push for the Griffins’ Calder Cup championship, scoring seven points in 10 games.
Looking Ahead to 2013-14:
Nyquist is currently a restricted free agent, but one who Ken Holland will certainly re-sign without mulling it over too hard. Unlike Tatar, who is on the final year of his entry level deal and could potentially return to the Griffins if necessary, Nyquist will be with the Red Wings from here on out. He’s shown enough to prove he belongs, and his scoring should become more consistent as he sees more ice time with one of the top two lines.
The only way Nyquist wouldn’t be playing his trade at The Joe this fall is if the team decides to include him as part of a trade. That doesn’t seem likely to happen, but it’s not completely outside the realm of possibility as Holland juggles the cap numbers and a roster that has a few extra players when everyone is healthy.
Smart money says Red Wings fans will be seeing a lot more of Nyquist come this fall. Look for him to become an increasingly important cog in the team’s offense this season, and hopefully, for many more after that.