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Nyquist on joining the Blue Jackets: 'We're in a great spot' to win

Veteran forward signed four-year contract to join Columbus on July 1

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

Thursday will mark one month since free agent Gustav Nyquist signed a four-year contract to join the Blue Jackets.  

It's a life-changing move for the 29-year-old forward, who has gotten used to such events in 2019. 

Since January, he has been traded from the Detroit Red Wings, the only NHL franchise he'd ever known, across the country to San Jose; has entered fatherhood, as his wife Danielle gave birth to the couple's first child, Charlotte, in April; and now has signed a long-term deal with Columbus.  

It's been a lot, but speaking Tuesday during the Eastside Elite summer league's All-Star Challenge in suburban Detroit, Nyquist sounded like a man content with the direction his life is heading.  

"It's really felt like home here after being here for such a long time and now leaving," Nyquist said during the charity event that featured some of the top Michigan-based hockey talent on the planet.  

"But you know, it's a new adventure. That's how we look at it. We're really excited to come down to Columbus and a really good team. We've been down there a couple of times already. We love the area -- super nice suburbs and all that. The city is great, so we're really excited." 

RELATED: Nyquist, Werenski skate together at Eastside Elite event

Things are starting to come together for Nyquist in Columbus. The family has found a home and expects to move from its home in Michigan to Ohio in late August. A number of his new Blue Jackets teammates as well as head coach John Tortorella have reached out, and Nyquist has spent part of summer working out and playing hockey in the Eastside Elite league with future CBJ teammate Zach Werenski. 

So far, he is the marquee acquisition this summer for the Blue Jackets in free agency, and he heads to Columbus expecting to win. Despite some high-profile losses from the Columbus roster this summer, Nyquist -- who went to the Western Conference final in his season with the Sharks after missing the playoffs for two straight seasons with Detroit -- enters the picture with the belief the Blue Jackets have what it takes to play postseason hockey in the coming seasons.  

"Where the team is at -- that's an exciting thing," Nyquist said. "Coming to San Jose, it was awesome to be a part of a playoff run again. I missed it for two years. It's crazy how much you miss it after being in it for so many years. Looking at where Columbus is at and the future of the team, I think it's a great look on the team. That was really exciting." 

Of course, just about every free agent who joins a team in the summer says a similar thing, but the Blue Jackets did make the final eight last season after a sweep of a 62-win Tampa Bay team in the first round of the playoffs. Columbus also returns 12 of its top 13 regular-season point scorers and was the youngest team in the league a season ago at the start of the campaign, showing the potential for growth. 

Such 25-and-under players as Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Josh Anderson and Oliver Bjorkstrand are expected to keep maturing, while the veteran leadership core includes Cam Atkinson, Nick Foligno and Boone Jenner. Add in such prospects as Alexandre Texier, Elvis Merzlikins and Emil Bemstrom and the ceiling appears to be high. 

"I think looking at the team, we're in a great spot," Nyquist said. "A lot of the core players are younger, and that's what teams are looking for now. We have some great leadership, veteran leadership on the team. I think it's a great mix.  

"Those guys leaving, a lot of media will talk about that, but I see it as a good opportunity for me personally coming in but also a lot of the guys that are already on the team. It's going to give them a lot more opportunities, which is going to help those younger guys take bigger roles." 

Nyquist will be counted on to be the same offensive threat he's been since his breakout 28-goal season in 2013-14 with the Red Wings. The winger has averaged 21 goals and 50 points per 82 games in his career, including a 22-goal, 60-point showing this past season when he set career records for assists (38) and points.  

With the departure of Artemi Panarin opening up a top-six spot, Nyquist in Columbus could be a match made in heaven.  

"From playing there, I think it's a great building to play in," Nyquist said. "The cannon is kind of annoying to play against, so it'll be nice to have that when my team scores now. The people seem great. I'm excited. It will be fun to get to know the place a little bit more. 

"It's funny, I talked to a lot of people after signing there and everyone says, 'Oh, it's such a great city.' That's a good thing to hear. I've had no one come tell me (anything negative), it's all positive things. We couldn't be happier that we're going down to Columbus." 

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