DETROIT – Be patient – it’s all Gustav Nyquist could do as he waited for the call from Detroit.
On Thursday, it finally came.
The Red Wings recalled Nyquist from the Grand Rapids Griffins, welcoming the 24-year-old back to Joe Louis Arena for the Wings’ matchup against Carolina.
“It feels great, obviously, very excited to get in again tonight and it’s going to be a fun game to be a part of,” Nyquist said.
After losing defenseman Danny DeKeyser for 3-6 weeks with a separated shoulder, the Red Wings were able to clear enough cap space to add Nyquist to the roster.
Nyquist appeared in 22 games for the Red Wings during the 2013 season, including 14 playoff contests, recording three goals and three assists during his time with Detroit.
“He was a good player for us last year and a key for us on our second unit power play,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Played real well for us in the playoffs. He’s quick, generates offense, gives us another skilled player to play on our top six, which is real positive for us. We knew all along that we were going to try to get him here, we just financially had to way to do that. It’s great to see him here.”
It’s expected that Nyquist will skate on the second line with center Henrik Zetterberg and power forward Johan Franzen.
Despite his strong performance in the past, Nyquist fell victim to the Red Wings’ salary cap issues and was assigned to Grand Rapids after training camp.
“Of course my goal was to make the team out of training camp and unfortunately I didn’t do that,” he said. “But I couldn’t think about it too much. I can’t stop playing just because I’m down in Grand Rapids. It’s still a great league, like I said before. I got a lot of opportunities to develop down there, be apart of a great team down there. So I’ve been trying to work hard every day and get better.”
And he’s done just that. Through 15 games with the Griffins, Nyquist leads the team and is tied for fourth in the AHL in scoring with seven goals and 14 assists. The Halmstad, Sweden, native was also part of the 2013 Calder Cup championship, recording two goals and five assists in 10 playoff games.
Joakim Andersson skated on a line with Nyquist last season with the Wings and Griffins, and he’s looking forward to seeing his former teammate back in Detroit.
“I talked to him all the time and of course he was disappointed,” Andersson said of Nyquist. “He wants to play here with the Red Wings in the NHL. But he had a great attitude all through the process and now he’s here and he’s happy to be here and we’re happy to have him here again.”
Nyquist joins the Red Wings amidst the team’s seven-game winless streak and eight-game slide at home. Detroit has struggled to find production beyond Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk this season, and hope the young and explosive Nyquist will add a spark to the offense.
“When you look at our group we haven’t scored at all, and so now he helps people score,” Babcock said. “I think that’s a real positive thing.”
Nyquist said, “I’m just going to try to play my game. We all know that we’re in need of a win here as a team and obviously we’ve lost a few in a row up here and at home as well. So that’s something we want to change tonight.”
Tonight might be the only time Nyquist has to make that change. Babcock didn’t give any indicator of how long the forward will be in Detroit, as once Nyquist appears in two NHL games, he must clear waivers before returning to Grand Rapids.
“Well, his job, and no different tonight if I were him, he’s still allowed to go back to the minors,” Babcock said. “He’s so good, tonight you put so much pressure on the coach and the manger that they had to do something about it. That’s what he’s done. That’s the only thing you can do as a player. The best players in the end get to play, they decide who gets to play because they play well enough to make it happen and he’s done a good job.”