Detroit Red Wings: Analyzing Nyquist’s New Contract


When the Detroit Red Wings inked Gustav Nyquist to a four-year deal worth $19 million, a number of things were indicated once Nyquist’s scribbled his signature across the dotted line. I narrowed it down to four distinct points:

  • Gustav Nyquist is undeniably part of the younger Red Wings core
  • A hefty raise places his importance higher than some pundits speculated
  • Tomas Jurco and Teemu Pulkkinen shouldn’t expect significant raises
  • Someone is going to get dealt with a glut of forwards angling to make the roster

Wings have The Golden Goose

It wasn’t as if this was a secret. Fans were beside themselves during the 2013-2014 season when Nyquist was held back in Grand Rapids while Dan Cleary and Mikael Samuelsson set the score sheet ablaze with well, nothing. Nyquist skated to the rescue when he was brought up due to injury and ended up scoring 28 goals, leading the team.

More from Red Wings News

He was held scoreless in the playoffs, but his performance a year prior in the 2013 playoffs showed he could play in primetime. Nyquist followed up his 2013-2014 campaign with another strong showing in 2014-2015. Again, his playoff performance left more to be desired, but he contributed more. It’s easy to forget that Pavel Datsyuk was once heavily criticized for his inability to “show up” in the playoffs.

How did that turn out?

Expectations are that Nyquist will perform much like current team captain Henrik Zetterberg and Datsyuk. The Wings have hitched their cart to both Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, expecting them to carry the team for the next decade like Zetterberg and Datsyuk, and Yzerman and Fedorov before them. The third highest salary amongst forwards cements that idea. He’s the Golden Goose, indeed.

How does this affect Pulkkinen and Jurco?

Pulkkinen’s success in Grand Rapids should score him at least a deal around $1 million. Furthermore, his limited play in Detroit doesn’t allow for a higher contract. Mike Babcock, as we saw with many other young kids, didn’t trust Pulkkinen because well, he was a kid. He looked lost at times, but he also looked downright deadly with the puck.

Jurco is a different case. Expected to be a major contributor, Jurco struggled in a contract year which drives down his price. According to General Fanager, Jurco’s contract was $925,000 with a cap hit of just above $709,000. He regressed in his first full season in Detroit, scoring only 3 goals after having 8 in fewer games during the 2013-2014 season. The culprit for the fall back? Well, the favorite Red Wings fan piñata since leaving has been Babcock and we’ll take a shot. Jurco seemed tentative on the ice at times which can be attributed to Babs’ tough style. At other times, he was snakebitten. Everyone from the front office to the fan base has to expect an uptick in performance–especially with Jeff Blashill in charge. Under Blash in 2013-2014, Jurco was a point-per-game player before his call-up to Detroit. Much like the arguments given before about the comfort with Blash, Jurco’s performance applies here.

With NHL experience and the Red Wings willing to a good faith estimate, I would guess $1.5-1.75 million would be a reasonable offer.

Yes, I realize they don’t have those numbers under the cap right now. But the LTIR along with some movement will make them cap compliant by the beginning of the season.

Who’s the odd man out?

With Datsyuk and Franzen (most likely) to be on the LTIR, it will become an experiment in Hockey Darwinism. The strongest will survive. With many of those young players signed to inexpensive contracts, someone could end up being used to get something more in the way of scoring. If there’s a logjam, then at least get something for that glut of talent.

There’s still one other person un-signed. Remember him? Guy by the name of Dan Cleary?

That’s another post for another day.

Next: Top Red Wings Draft Picks since Yzerman Part 1

More from Octopus Thrower