If Gustav Nyquist hasn’t started packing his bags for an upcoming trip to Sochi yet, he might want to start thinking about it.
After a 4 point performance and netting his first career hat trick 42 seconds into the third period of what felt like a playoff game against the Washington Capitals this afternoon, Nyquist may have become the frontrunner to replace his fellow countryman Johan Franzen on the Swedish Olympic hockey team. Maybe I’m just playing favorites here, but why not replace one Detroit Red Wing with another?
Red Wing fans have always known that they have had something good coming in the form of Gustav Nyquist. On more than one occasion over the last two years fans have pleaded to “let the goose loose” during offensive slumps in Detroit’s game. Nyquist was able to build up such a large buzz with his dynamic play during his time in Grand Rapids, including a personal best 60 point Calder Cup winning season in 2012-2013. With such great numbers in the AHL and a few brief call ups to Detroit, most fans couldn’t wait to see Gus become a full-time Red Wing.
But as any good Detroit hockey fan knows, the Red Wings don’t like to pick their prospects until they are nice and overripe. It came as a pretty big shock to most when Nyquist was announced as the last player to be cut from the Red Wings roster right before the start of the 2013 season, especially given his outstanding play in both the series against Anaheim and Chicago last post-season. Fans had to sit and watch as roster spots were given to older and more seasoned veterans like Daniel Cleary and Mikael Samuelsson.
It wasn’t until late November when Danny DeKeyser was put on long-term IR that the Wings were able to bring up Nyquist to try to spark a team that had lost their previous 7 games at that point. Finally Wings fans were able to get their wish, and it only took 17 seconds into the game for Nyqiust to score a goal and he would eventually go on to score the game winner. He would go on to score four goals in his first five games after being recalled from the Griffins. The next 18 games were a little more rough. Nyquist only found the back of the net once along with tallying 5 assists.
After some recent words of wisdom from Coach Babcock, Nyquist has picked up his game and scored eight goals and four assists in his last seven games, bringing his current season totals to 13 goals and 9 assists in 30 games played. Not too shabby for a guy who didn’t have a roster spot at the start of the season in early October. Nyquist is still a work in progress, but it’s been exciting to watch what he can do with the puck and it’s even more exciting to think of what he will be able to do when he fine tunes his game a bit more.
I’m not sure who is in charge of picking Franzen’s replacement on team Sweden, but I know that they’ve already picked five other Red Wings who might be able to make a solid recommendation.