DETROIT – All eyes were on Gustav Nyquist in 2014-15 as he returned for his second full season with the Red Wings. Breaking out onto the scene, Nyquist surpassed his numbers from a season ago to post a string of new career highs.
With 28 goals and 48 points last season, Nyquist surprised many in the NHL with a significant boost in the absence of several injured Wings. Following up that performance this season would not be easy, as expectations for the 25-year-old were high in a sink or swim situation.
He was one of five Wings to appear in all 82 games this season and that constant presence in the lineup led to career highs in assists (27) and points (54) as Nyquist proved to be a bona fide playmaker.
“He skates really well, he does a lot of good things out there,” forward Justin Abdelkader said. “I’ve played with him quite a bit the last few years and usually always play well. He skates really well and has a knack for scoring and pretty easy to play with.”
Abdelkader spent the bulk of 2014-15 skating on the top forward line combined with Nyquist and Henrik Zetterberg. The trio combined for 67 of the team’s 229 goals. The emergence of Nyquist as an offensive presence came as no surprise to his linemates.
“It’s a huge building block, I think he’s a player that you count on him to score goals, score big goals,” Abdelkader said. “He’s really good on the power play. Just seems to have a knack for scoring, he’s fun to play with and he’s playing well again this year … It’s tough to score night in and night out, but he’s doing a lot of good things out there for us.”
Nyquist began the season scoring a goal in each of the first four games, providing a boost to a team that started out slow offensively, averaging just two goals per game in the first two weeks of the season.
On the power play, though, is where Nyquist shined scoring a team-high 14 goals, which was a new career high and tied for third in the NHL. His 24 power-play points was also a career high as Nyquist was one of four Wings to surpass 20 points on a unit that ranked second in the league converting 23.8 percent of its opportunities.
January would prove to be his best month, as the native of Halmstad, Sweden, totaled five goals and 13 points in 12 games including a four-game point streak where Nyquist totaled seven points. He would go on to finish the season strong, never going more than three games without a point and scoring five goals in the final 11 games of the regular season.
Playing 82 games and being a consistent performer proved that Nyquist is not only capable of putting together a full season, but can be relied upon to carry the bulk of scoring required from a top-six forward. That is a promising sign for the future as aging veterans like Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk approach the twilight of their careers and look to pass the proverbial torch to the next generation of potent forwards like Nyquist and others.