On Tuesday, the Detroit Red Wings took care of securing the future of their final remaining restricted free agent, as they signed young Swedish forward Gustav Nyquist to a two-year deal. At a cap hit under a million per season, this is a great deal for the Red Wings and with the signing the team can now move forward with the remaining moves that need to be made. The Red Wings now sit a little more than $600,000 over the salary cap but also have 16 forwards signed and plan to only keep 14 around. Now that Nyquist’s future with the team is set for the next two seasons, it should be less than a month before we know who won’t be back at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings drafted Nyquist in the fourth round in 2008, and he starred at the University of Maine for three seasons before turning pro. As an AHL rookie with the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2011-12, he scored 22 goals and had 58 points in 56 games. He also debuted in Detroit, scoring his first career goal and notching four points in 13 games. This season found him back in Grand Rapids due to the lockout, and by season’s end he led the Griffins with 23 goals and 60 points in 58 games. In 22 games with the Red Wings he added three goals and had six points, and was part of a third line alongside Joakim Andersson and Damien Brunner that hit its offensive stride near the end of the season and in the playoffs. The additions of Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss likely keep him off the top two lines for at least this season, and that may be for the best. The original projection for Nyquist was as a top-six scoring forward, but if last season was any indication he could be more of a threat as the top forward on the third line.
With Nyquist signed, the two forwards likely on their way out are Jordin Tootoo and Cory Emmerton. Injuries to Darren Helm, Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson further complicate things, and no-trade clauses for the latter two make them virtually impossible to move. In addition, the rumors of an effort to re-sing Dan Cleary have re-surfaced and the Red Wings would be best to further complicate things by going down that road. Nyquist now has two years to show the Red Wings he can be the impact player they believe and hope that he can, and the team did well to secure his services at such a reasonable price.