Nyquist on 2016-17 season: Not good enough
April 20, 2017, 5:54 PM ET [4 Comments]
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You can point to his career-high 36 assists and note that Gustav Nyquist’s season wasn’t as bad as people are making it out to be.
You can suggest that his strong finish to the season - Nyquist posted 5-16-21 numbers in his last 23 games - and infer that he’s rediscovered his offensive touch and that this is a promising development looking ahead to the 2017-18 NHL season.
You can do all this but Nyquist will stop you in your track. The Detroit Red Wings right-winger points to one number - the 12 goals he scored in 76 games - and sums it up in three words.
Not good enough.
“In college and pro I always think I had more assists than goals but in saying that, for me I’m not happy with the amount of goals I scored,” Nyquist said. “I think I have to be better for sure in the goal-scoring department and not just getting assists.
“I still think I can score more goals in this league than I showed this year. It’s something I’ve got to be better at.”
Certainly, the decline in the performance in Detroit’s power play the past two seasons has impacted his ability to illuminate red lamps. Nyquist collected 14 power-play markers in 2014-15 as part of his 27-goal campaign, a season in which the Wings suited up the NHL’s second-best power play.
He’s combined for nine power-play goals, and just two this past season, as the Wings floundered with the man advantage.
Some in the Wings organization believe that his 28 goals in 57 games in 2013-14 miscast Nyquist as a goal scorer first, when in reality, he’s more of a playmaker.
“When Nyquist came up to the Red Wings, he scored at a rate that he hadn’t scored at before in the American League, or in college (at Maine),” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “It doesn’t mean he won’t score at that rate again, it simply means we can’t judge him on his ability to score goals.”
Blashill prefers to point to the big picture, how Nyquist enjoyed a productive campaign with 48 points even though the goals weren’t going in for him.
“He had the third-most points he’s had in the NHL,” Blashill said. “He does a lot more than just score goals.”
As much as Nyquist appreciates the support, he’s also of the belief that had he supported the team with more goals from the get-go, maybe the Wings would still be playing hockey today.
“Yeah but at the same time it’s too late,” Nyquist said of his strong finish to the season. “It’s April and we’re out and we’re not playing during the most important part of the season.
“I think for me it’s always been about team first and missing the playoffs here, that means we all had to be better.
“For sure I have to be better next year for the team to make the playoffs.
The Wings added another of their 2014 NHL entry draft picks when forward Christoffer Ehn was signed Thursday to a three-year entry level deal. Ehn was selected 106th overall in 2014.
Already from that draft class, the Wings have seen center Dylan Larkin (15th) play two seasons for the club. Center Dominic Turgeon (63rd) spent the 2016-17 season with Detroit’s AHL farm club in Grand Rapids, producing 6-11-17 numbers in 71 games. Forward Axel Holmstrom (196th) was recently signed and finished the season with Grand Rapids, collecting 1-1-2 totals in seven games.
Ehn, a 6-3, 181-pound center, put up 4-9-13 totals in 52 games for Frolunda HC of the Swedish Elite League this season, adding two points (1-1-2) in 14 postseason appearances. He will join Grand Rapids in time for the Calder Cup playoffs, which open Friday with the Central Division semifinals against the Milwaukee Admirals.
The Wings believe that Ehn will be at home in the middle or on the wing.
“He’s got good hockey sense, and is always looking around to make plays,” Detroit scout Hakan Andersson said.