Battalion Breakdown is (normally) a closer look at the Blue Jackets' past season on a player-by-player basis. But today, BlueJackets.com concludes its offseason series by taking a look at a player who didn't wear Union Blue last year. Instead, we take a deep dive into the performance of free agent signee Gustav Nyquist, who inked a four-year deal with the team July 1.
Birth date: Sept. 1, 1989
Height/Weight: 5-11, 184
Stats (Games, G-A-P, point shares): 81 GP, 22-38-60, 5.8 PS
Contract: Signed through 2022-23
The concept of Battalion Breakdown is to look back at the past season, see how the players who were on the Blue Jackets roster at the end of the season performed, and to put that into context in that player's role on the team.
But today, to conclude our summer series, we're gonna do something a little different.
Yes, if you've gotten this far, you've probably figured it out. Rather than look at a player who spent the past season on the Jackets' roster, today's piece is on Gustav Nyquist with the thought in mind that looking back at what winger did this past year with Detroit and San Jose can help prepare Blue Jackets fans on what to expect this coming season when he arrives.
By now, most Jackets fans likely know that he was added to bring in offense, especially after the free agency departures of leading scorer Artemi Panarin and a pair of trade-deadline acquisitions in Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel.
But just how did Nyquist do last season when he totaled a career-high 60 points, and what can we expect going forward?
It's time to break it down, Battalion Breakdown style.
Entering the season: Nyquist entered the season in the final year of a four-year deal inked in July 2015 with the Red Wings, the only team he had played for in his NHL career. Unfortunately, that meant he was likely to be on the trading block nearing the deadline, considering he was in the final year of his contract and the Wings were thought to be unlikely to contend for a playoff spot. Nyquist also was coming off a 21-goal, 40-point performance that featured the lowest point output of his career, so a bounceback season on the score sheet would be good for everyone involved.
What happened: Did Nyquist ever bounce back in the numbers department, though his scoring improvement came almost exclusively in the assist department. He went from 19 helpers in 2017-18 to a career-high 38 a year ago.
That helped him post a career-best 60 points on the year, a total that was split between the Red Wings (16-33-49 in 62 games) and San Jose (6-5-11, 19 GP), to whom he was traded at the deadline draft picks by a Red Wings team that was out of contention for a postseason spot.
Nyquist also returned to the postseason after a two-year absence and had an up-and-down postseason. He played in 20 games for a San Jose team that reached the Western Conference final, scoring just one goal but adding 10 helpers for 11 points.
Of course, point totals vary on a year-by-year basis, but Nyquist has been a pretty consistent producer, averaging 21 goals and 50 points per 82 games in his career. His possession numbers also have been consistently on the good side, as his CF% and FF% have each been above 50 percent at even strength for most of his career. This past season, his CF% was 53.7 percent and his FF% was 52.3, and he was plus-11.6 in expected plus-minus per Hockey Reference.
Nyquist was also a piece of the power play with both squads, finishing with a pair of goals and 10 assists with the man-advantage on the season. He's been a power play player most of his career and is reputed to excel at playing the middle spot in a 1-3-1 setup like the Blue Jackets use.
Nyquist had one overtime goal on the year, and it came in the Red Wings' first victory of the season Oct. 20. He already had an assist in the contest when Dylan Larkin broke up a play in the neutral zone and flipped a pass ahead to Nyquist. The Swede did the rest from there, skating in alone and firing a shot past the blocker of Michael Hutchinson for the game winner.
By the Numbers
10.8: Nyquist's shooting percentage of 10.8 percent last year falls in line with his career mark of 11.2.
21: The Sharks as a team had a 59-38 edge in high-danger chances at 5-on-5 when Nyquist was on the ice during the last 19 games.
11: Nyquist will become the 11th player from Sweden to play for the Blue Jackets when he makes his debut.