It is no secret that Gustav Nyquist has start potential. He was seen both in the regular season and playoffs during the Detroit Red Wings 2011-12 campaign. He was not only someone who came up just to eat up some 4th-line minutes and give the big guns a rest – he was also found next to Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, and Todd Bertuzzi, helping the 1st line put on offensive pressure.
It is not simply due to multiple injuries nor to coincidence, but rather because he belonged there – and all watching in the rink or at home thought he was in exactly the right place. Nyquist has the quickness with his hands, he can skate up and down the ice, and when he releases a solid wrist shot it almost seems – dare one say it – Datsyukian?
OK, let’s not go too far with the comparisons. Potential? Yes. Datsyukian? For now that adjective only belongs to the magic man: number 13.
Where the focus should lie is in the fact that a rookie 22-year-old is out there flying up and down the ice next to one of the best players in the game, and yet no one seems to think he is out of place. It seems like Wings coach Mike Babcock expected nothing less from the Hobey Baker Award finalist. And why should he have? While at the University of Maine, Gustav led his team in scoring all three years. He continued at the Wings AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, leading the team in points (58) and coming second in goals (22) despite playing in only 56 games.
Nyquist still needs to get bigger, get stronger, and continue to improve his all-around game for the NHL level. In 18 games played, he contributed 7 points with one brilliant goal off an amazing back-handed no-look pass from Datsyuk. With hard work the goals and the assists will come. What can and will make this young Swede one of the future greats is being around Datsyuk and countryman Henrik Zetterberg. Both of the “Eurotwins” are not only known for skill, but for their dogged work ethic. This looks to be something Nyquist has taken to heart, as he backchecks as hard as he skates up the ice.
In 2006, many said the Wings would begin to slip, as much talent was retiring or headed in other directions. In 2012, it is no different, as talent retires or chooses other markets, a skilled young player with a work ethic like Nyquist is just another chance for this Detroit organization to prove the hockey skeptics wrong again.
My opinion? With Nyquist on the ice, Wings fans will still be laughing about the “demise of the Red Wings” for quite a few years to come.