DETROIT – Gustav Nyquist played more than hundred pro games this season, appeared in his second Stanley Cup playoffs and helped the Grand Rapids Griffins win the Calder Cup.
It was an exhausting time, but one that Nyquist hopes to build on for the future.
“It was a lot of hockey, but I was fortunate to be healthy all season long,” said Nyquist, in a phone interview with DetroitRedWings.com. “I felt pretty fresh the whole time. Some games, obviously like the end of the season, you do feel like you don’t have the legs, but you just have to keep going. In the playoffs, you’re so excited to play you don’t really think too much if you’re feeling it because your adrenaline is pumping. It’s just fun to be out there.”
Nyquist produced 78 points in 104 total games between Detroit and Grand Rapids, including 22 regular season games, and 14 in the playoffs, for the Red Wings. Also, he was one of just three NHL rookies to score an overtime goal during this spring’s Stanley Cup playoffs, lifting Detroit to a 5-4 win in Game 2 of the opener round at Anaheim.
For his efforts, the 23-year-old Swedish star has been named the 2013 Red Wings’ Rookie of the Year by the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association. Nyquist is the 44th recipient of the honor that was first awarded to center Max McNab in 1949.
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“I’m really excited and real honored,” Nyquist said. “You look at some of the past winners. It’s really a great honor to have my name in that same group. We had a lot of young guys playing and the other young guys did a great job. It must have been hard to pick just one, but again, I thought all of the young guys did a tremendous job. We had a lot of fun and gained a lot of experience, so it was a good season for us.”
Nyquist helped form a solid third line late in the season and into the playoffs, playing alongside winger Damien Brunner and fellow rookie Joakim Andersson. While all three performed terrifically, it’s Nyquist who is considered to be the franchise’s most-skilled forward prospect. An amazing skater with incredible playmaking skills, he led the American Hockey League in scoring before his March call up.
Nyquist collected three goals and three assists with the Wings, and two goals and three assists during the playoffs. He finished second among rookies with seven takeaways, and third with 26 shots on net, in the playoffs, and was the sixth ranked rookie with 19 takeaways during the regular season.
A day after the Red Wings were eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference semifinals, Nyquist and Andersson were sent down to Grand Rapids, where they boasted the Griffins’ power play.
“When my chance came I think it was a great learning experience, especially down the stretch there when our backs were kind of against the wall and we had to win a lot of games,” Nyquist said. “And then in the playoffs with the two Game 7s, and another down with Grand Rapids, so three Game 7s in a season, I think Andy and the other young guys who were up in Detroit will learn from it.”
Coming off of an entry-level contract, Nyquist will be a restricted free agent in a few days. He hopes to sign a new contract next month.
A former two-time Hobey Baker Award finalist at the University of Maine, Nyquist was selected by the Red Wings in the fourth round of the 2008 NHL draft.
The DSBA will honor Nyquist prior to a Red Wings’ home game at Joe Louis Arena next season.
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose
* DSBA awarded co-rookies of the year in 1967-68