Gustav Nyquist has played on Team Sweden with Alexander Wennberg, knows Cam Atkinson from their days as college superstars and works out in the summer with Zach Werenski.
Now, he'll be teammates with all three.
Nyquist signed a four-year contract with the Blue Jackets at the start of free agency on Monday, adding another scoring threat to a team that has made three straight playoff appearances and earned the franchise's first postseason series victory this spring.
"I think Columbus was always one of the teams I was looking at," Nyquist said. "I think they're a team that has some really good young players and some really good veteran players and leadership, so I think that's a good mix. I think they're a team that's heading in a good direction. I think they showed that last year in the playoffs obviously so I'm excited to join."
Originally a native of Halmstad, Sweden, who spent the first seven and a half years of his career with Detroit, Nyquist went to San Jose at the trade deadline last year and helped the Sharks make it to the Western Conference Final. Combined between the two spots, the winger had 22 goals and 38 assists in the regular season for a career-high 60 points, and in his career he's averaged 21 tallies and 50 points per 82 games.
"It was a good season last year, but I still think I have room for improvement and I'm really excited to play with some really, really good players in Columbus," he said. "I think that's only going to help me develop even more. I feel like there's still room for improvement, so I'm hoping to bring that down to Columbus."
Now that he's headed to Columbus, he hopes to keep adding to those totals, with the caveat that it'll be nice to see his goals punctuated by the famous cannon in Nationwide Arena.
"I've played in that building numerous times and it's going to be nice to have that cannon on my side this time," Nyquist said with a laugh.
Jarmo Kekalainen praised Nyquist's dependability and versatility Monday, two reasons why the Blue Jackets general manager was willing to bring in the forward from the open market. Just two major contributors to last year's team, Riley Nash and Anthony Duclair, were added as NHL free agents, with the majority of the roster built either through the draft or trades.
But this appears to be a good match between player and team, with Nyquist providing a veteran scoring punch to a team that was looking for just that. In addition, his familiarity with a number of players on the team should make it an easy transition, and a few of his new teammates have already welcomed him to the squad.
"(They've had) great things to say," he said. "A few of the guys have already reached out, and I'm sure I'll talk to Zach here a little bit more tomorrow now that we're on the same team."
It's been a time of great change for Nyquist over the past few months. He was traded from Detroit, the only organization he'd known in the NHL, to San Jose in February, just two months before he and his wife Danielle had their first child. Charlotte was born in April -- Nyquist flew back to Detroit for the birth and then returned, not missing a game, during the playoffs -- and now Nyquist will return to the Midwest to join the Blue Jackets.
If his head has been spinning, it will have a chance to settle down now, as Nyquist has navigated the free agent market and has a new home in Columbus.
"It was a different process for sure," Nyquist said of free agency. "It was a stressful process, I would say. It was a decision that had to be made in a pretty fast matter, but I think it worked out perfect for me and I couldn't be happier that I landed with Columbus."