Geek Of The Week: Is Gustav A Must Have Next Season?

by Mike Zacour on March 31, 2019


With most fantasy hockey leagues wrapping up sooner than later, one can’t help but start to look forward to the 2019 draft.   

During his time in Detroit this season Gustav Nyquist was given top-end deployment.  As Dylan Larkin broke out, Nyquist was attached to his hip and happy to go along for the ride. 

Of course all good things come to an end, with an expiring contract Nyquist was (predictably) moved at the deadline to the contending San Jose sharks for a second-round pick in 2019 and a conditional third in 2020. 

Heading into March 31, Nyquist had a career high in points with 57 in 77 games and was on pace to break 60 for the first time.  

Nyquist has hit the 20-goal mark in consecutive seasons and for the fourth time in his career.  It’s not all that uncommon for a player to put up a career high in points at the age of 29.  

Brad Marchand was the one that immediately came to mind with 85 points in 68 games (or 1.25 PPG) last season and he’s currently eclipsing that pace this year with 1.27 PPG (quick reminder to fantasy GMs that players don’t expire when they hit 30 years of age).  

Let’s be clear – Nyquist is no Marchand and his value is going to be highest in points-only formats. 

After eight seasons in the league, it’s likely that Nyquist will never block a lot of shots or throw a ton of hits.  He doesn’t take faceoffs from the wing regularly and he rarely takes penalties (12 PIM in 77 games this season). 

Nyquist is close to even during his NHL career at a plus-two over 496 games. At least he won’t kill you if your league still counts plus-minus.

Nyquist will be a UFA at the end of this season, something those in cap leagues will have to consider.  Alex McLean writes the weekly Dobber Capped article and he was kind enough to provide the numbers for Nyquist from his model projection.  It showed him coming in at 5.4M AAV with a five-year contract.  Check out his weekly article here – it’s a must-read for cap leaguers.

On a more positive note, Nyquist has decided to shoot the puck more over the last two seasons than he did the previous two, which bodes well for him. 

He threw a career high 213 shots on net last season and converted at 9.9 percent (21 goals).  This season he currently sits at 198 shots and is converting at 10.1 percent (20 goals).  That’s about as consistent as you can get over two seasons.

Nyquist has a career shooting percentage of 9.1, but he’s shooting more than ever so 10 percent feels just about right.  Some of the advanced stats point to sustainability here as well: 5-on-5 shooting percentage is at 8.8, PDO is 991, and IPP is at a healthy 68.7 percent.

The shot volume uptick over the last two seasons came with a modest increase in ice-time from 2016-17.  This tells us that he’s not shooting more simply because he’s getting more ice time.

Nyquist averaged 18:07 per game with Detroit this year, with 2:16 coming on the power play. 

Since the trade to San Jose, Nyquist has averaged 15:54 per contest with 2:01 coming on the power play.  Power-play time is critical for point producers, but don’t let his time with San Jose fool you.  We’re dealing with a small 15-game sample size that has seen recent injuries to both Erik Karlsson and Joe Pavelski

There’s no question that Nyquist loses power-play time when those offensive juggernauts return from injury.  Expect to see him somewhere around 30-35 percent of the team’s total power-play time next season, if he were to remain with the Sharks. The Sharks are just too deep up front, and if they run one primary unit Nyquist won’t make the cut.  There is an outside chance they split two units evenly, but don’t bank on that happening.

It is however, nice to know that Nyquist has the potential to get bumped to the top power play on a top team like the Sharks, if that team were to suffer a few key injuries.

There is no doubt that less ice time has hurt Nyquist’s numbers and we can see it in the small sample size.  He has 8 points in 15 games (44-point pace) since the trade with only one point coming on the power play. Compare that to his time in Detroit this season, where he had 49 points in 62 games (65 point pace) with 11 power-play points. 

The good news is Nyquist hasn’t stopped shooting in San Jose despite the lower ice time.  He’s averaging 2.33 shots-per-game.  That number is down from 2.62 shots-per-game earlier in the season with Detroit, but that can mostly be attributed to the loss of icetime.

So long as Nyquist continues to shoot the puck at the rate he’s been shooting for two seasons, and there’s no predictable reason to say he can’t, locking him in for 20 goals next season feels comfortable. 

The question becomes how many assists can Nyquist get next season?  Is he going to be a mediocre 45-point player or can he crack 60 with upside of 65?

These are the types of deeper picks that can win you the championship if you nail a few of them or float you into mediocrity if you miss on them.

It’s unclear whether the Sharks will be able to re-sign Nyquist as they have some serious work ahead of them with upcoming UFA’s: Erik Karlsson, Joe Pavelski, Joonas Donskoi, and Joe Thornton. Timo Meier will also be due a big raise the following year as a UFA, so something or someone has to give.

Beyond San Jose it’s really anyone’s guess as to where Nyquist signs.  Regardless of where he ends up, he is likely to get paid as a top-six forward. 

When in doubt just follow the money, meaning he should see top-six deployment and more than 16 minutes per game wherever he ends up. 

Splitting the difference, we end up at 55 points (20 goals and 35 assists), which would be the second-highest output of his career. 

There’s a good chance Nyquist flies under the radar at next year’s drafts. He’s been around for a while and for the most part has been underwhelming.  Nyquist turns 30 next September, which will undoubtedly turn some GMs off.  Unless he re-signs with Detroit or San Jose, there will be some uncertainty as to the situation and deployment he will receive with his new team. 

If Nyquist happens to fall to the 45-50 point player area at your next draft, he’s definitely someone worth considering.

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