Why Gustav Nyquist is a good fantasy buy.

Can we just go ahead and make an all-decade award to be handed out to the the Detroit Red Wings every 10 years? This organization has done it all. Multiple Stanley Cups? Check. 24 straight years in the playoffs? Check. A continuous supply of young, talented players? Check and check. Back in 2008, the Red Wings went ahead and grabbed a skilled young Swede by the name of Gustav Nyquist in the fourth round. At the time, the pick didn’t receive much fanfare, but as with most Red Wings picks, especially those coming from the legendary European scout, Håkan Andersson, the player was probably going to turn into a Hall-of-Famer. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but boy does that guy have a stellar resume.

Fast-forward seven years and Nyquist has accomplished a great deal. He tore up the NCAA for a total of 144 points in 113 games; like all Detroit prospects, he did his time in Grand Rapids, racking up 143 points in 137 games and exploded onto the NHL scene scoring 28 goals in 57 games back in 2013-14. Now that’s a lot of numbers, but the message is clear: this kid has flat-out produced at every level. Last season there was massive expectations for Gus to take the next step and maybe challenge for a spot near the top of the league scoring list. However, his season did not end up that illustrious despite playing with some very solid talent. Let us take a look at his line mate breakdown from a year ago using the Frozen Pool Line Combo Tool:

44.9%    ABDELKADER,J – NYQUIST,G – ZETTERBERG,H

19.2%    NYQUIST,G – SHEAHAN,R – TATAR,T

19.1%    FRANZEN,J – NYQUIST,G – ZETTERBERG,H

9.6%      FRANZEN,J – HELM,D – NYQUIST,G

7.2%      NYQUIST,G – SHEAHAN,R – WEISS,S

Lining up next to Henrik Zetterberg for 64% of even-strength minutes is a plum position to be in, and while Nyquist did put up 54 points last season (0.65 ppg), it is seen as a regression after putting up a 0.84 point-per-game rate through 57 games the year before. His 25 even-strength points were a far cry from the 34 he scored in 2013-14 (in 57 games).  The real telling stat has to be the extreme drop in even-strength shooting percentage – from an unsustainably high 18.75% in ’13-14 to an unsustainably low 7.9% last season. Nyquist owners will want to see his even-strength production rise to a more reasonable level to go along with his impressive power play numbers.

Speaking of which, here’s a look at his power play line mates from the last season with the Frozen Pool Line Combo Tool:

27.2%    ABDELKADER,J – DATSYUK,P – NYQUIST,G – ZETTERBERG,H…

24.9%    ABDELKADER,J – FRANZEN,J – NYQUIST,G – ZETTERBERG,H…

24.1%    ABDELKADER,J – NYQUIST,G – PULKKINEN,T – ZETTERBERG,…

12.1%    ABDELKADER,J – NYQUIST,G – WEISS,S – ZETTERBERG,H

11.7%    ABDELKADER,J – DATSYUK,P – NYQUIST,G – TATAR,T

 

Nyquist primarily saw time on the second unit in 2013-14 but saw a promotion to the top squad last season. Lining up next to Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk usually equates to strong total numbers, especially with Detroit’s power play climbing all the way up to second in the league versus #18 in 2013-14. Nyquist saw a total of 248:21 on the PP last season – an average of three minutes per game. Surprisingly, this is a shade less than what he played the year before (3:14), and while he may have seen slightly less power play ice per game, Nyquist benefitted greatly from the jump in surrounding talent, seeing his power-play points rise from nine to 23 in the span of a year. It should also be noted that he shot the lights out on the power play last year, converting on an incredible 31.1% of his shots; good for 16th in the league.

The Red Wings power play should not suffer with the loss of Mike Babcock and co. as the Jeff Blashill led baby-wings down in Grand Rapids employed the same systems as the big club to help with the transition for prospects. With that in mind, is it realistic to expect a 31% shooting percentage on the power play again? Is it realistic to expect a sub-8.0% shooting percentage at even strength? Both are likely to be false, however a bump to around 10-12% in even strength shooting percentage is almost certain for the talented shooter, while a drop in power play shooting percentage to somewhere around 20-25% isn’t necessarily going to occur as the young sniper will still be surrounded by elite talent.

At age 26, entering into his third full season in the league and on the heels of a brand new four-year contract extension, Gus will be counted on even further to provide offense on a team transitioning from older veterans to a younger core. 70 points is not out of the question, however hoping for 60 and being pleased with anything more is probably the better bet. With the addition of Brad Richards, as well as Pavel Datsyuk nursing an ankle injury, there is a chance that Nyquist will be split from Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader during five-on-five; however, a bonding between Nyquist and Tomas Tatar would be a great recipe for the Red Wings to continue to cook through the regular season and into the playoffs year after year after ye… well, you get the point.