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Let’s get to know newcomer Gustav Nyquist

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After agreeing to a four-year, $22 million contract, Gustav Nyquist immediately helps offset key departures up front for Blue Jackets.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Colorado Avalanche at San Jose Sharks Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

It might be out with center Matt Duchene, winger Artemi Panarin and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. But out with the old, in with the new, it’s time to welcome in newcomer and winger Gustav Nyquist.

The ex-Shark, and before that, a member of the Red Wings, officially joined the Blue Jackets on Monday, July 1, the first official day of free agency. As the Blue Jackets embark on a new era of sorts, and usher in a wave of new talent, let’s get to know “Gus” a little bit more.

As Seeds mentioned in Monday’s article announcing the Nyquist-to-Columbus signing, the 29-year-old Swede is a veteran of eight NHL seasons, 500 career games. The first seven seasons and change came with the Red Wings, who drafted him in the fourth round in 2008, before trading him to San Jose at the trade deadline. Nyquist comes off a career year in which he registered a season best 60 points (22 goals, and the 38 assists also a career high) — (he finished just 10 points off the mark of Duchene by the way) — over 81 games.

In 55 career playoff games, Nyquist has 19 points (five goals, 14 assists). It’s always nice to come across guys who have experience in the playoffs, but it’s even better when those types of players are actively excited to be a part of the Blue Jackets.

He will be in town for the next four seasons at $22 million, a $5.5 million cap hit.

Over the course of his career, Nyquist has averaged just over 16 goal per season. He’s also proven to be durable, missing just seven games over the last three seasons. The other thing about this acquisition for Columbus is the nature of the position that Nyquist brings to the club, that being a top six winger. Hockey Reference lists him as a right winger, but has the ability to play on either side and will likely suit up on the left side for John Tortorella. NHL.com lists him as a center but he has not played the position in some time.

Nyquist also knows fellow Blue Jackets teammate Cam Atkinson from their collegiate days, dating back to 2008-09, as Nyquist suited up for the University of Maine Black Bears, opposing Atkinson’s Boston College Eagles. He also works out with Michigan native Zach Werenski in the off-season, as Jeff Svoboda mentioned.

2018-19

Prior to moving in a deadline deal to San Jose, the Blue Jackets were also a suitor of the veteran forward’s services. Targeting him last year prior to the trade deadline, the dominoes instead fell just right for both parties on July 1.

Career year

In addition to the career-highs of 38 assists and 60 points, the 22 goals he scored were the second-highest individual season total since his 28 scored in 2013-14. Nyquist only registered one playoff goal, but added 10 assists, and his 11 points were top six among Sharks playoff performers in the 20 games they played.

Hockey Viz

With-or-Without You

This is the with-or-without you portion of Nyquist’s ability in Detroit last season.

Hockey Viz

And the effect Nyquist had with the Red Wings and Sharks in terms of 5v5 Unblocked shot rates (against).

Hockey Viz
Hockey Viz

In their 2018-19 Sharks players season review, Fear The Fin looks at the role Nyquist filled and the numbers that fueled his teal tenure.

Looking ahead?

So, we don't know the lines yet, but we already have a good idea of what to expect come fall. Whether that be a potential first-line trio of Nyquist - Pierre-Luc Dubois - Cam Atkinson or trying to rekindle the Swedish connection of Nyquist - Alexander Wennberg and eventually Emil Bemstrom.

For Team Sweden in the 2016 IIHF World Championship, Nyquist (seven goals, one assist) and Wennberg (one goal, seven assists) co-led Sweden with eight points in the tournament. In their game against Kazakhstan, Wennberg assisted on three of Nyquist’s goals including this play where Wennberg delivered the assist from behind the goalie.

In learning more about the chemistry between Nyquist and Wennberg, I couldn’t help but wonder if this signing is, in part, a last-ditch effort to revive Wennberg’s tenure in Columbus. Based on the Wennberg’s play for Sweden during the 2019 IIHF tournament, his track record with Nyquist in the past and compatibility he seems to have playing with his fellow countrymen as a whole, it’s not the worst way to go if it was among the reasons to bring aboard Gus. No matter what, he has a valuable role in Columbus regardless of where he plays, and with who.