Red Wings' Nyquist gets star treatment in Toronto

Ted Kulfan,The Detroit News

Toronto — Gustav Nyquist might not be comfortable with it, nor does he feel he deserves it, but Nyquist is becoming a story around the league.

That was apparent Friday after the Red Wings' morning skate in Toronto, center of the Hockey Universe with its multitude of Canadian national media members.

Reporters were two or three deep surrounding Nyquist's locker stall, recording every question.

"I don't know if I consider myself in that discussion yet," Nyquist said when asked about being considered one of the better goal scorers in the league. "I'm still young in this league and still learning a lot. I'm very lucky, I feel, to play for the Red Wings and learning from so many leaders in this room who've been through a lot.

"It's a learning experience every day up here."

With three goals in his first three games, following scoring 28 goals in in 57 games last season, Nyquist has shown the ability to score.

When asked about Nyquist's ceiling, coach Mike Babcock wasn't sure what the limit could be.

"I don't know the answer to that question, I'm watching him just as you are," Babcock said. "He's scored everywhere he's been but he's scored points, not goals. He has a good shot, elite hockey sense and has some confidence.

"There are a lot of young players who come into the league and it takes a while to get confidence. He arrived a little older and established and he gained his confidence quicker."

Nyquist, 25, who was a 2008 fourth-round draft pick of the Red Wings, played three seasons at Maine (2008-11), where he scored 144 points (50 goals) in 113 games.

Nyquist went a route that's not common, coming from Sweden to play NCAA Division I hockey, rather than playing major junior in North America or staying in Sweden to play in the elite levels there.

But Nyquist and his parents felt playing NCAA hockey was a perfect choice.

"In Sweden you have to choose between going to school or play hockey, you can't do both," Nyquist said. "Sweden doesn't have college hockey. Here, you can play college hockey, play at a very high level, so it's a perfect way to go."

Nyquist said the schedule in college hockey allowed him to get a lot of practice time and work on his skills, while also allowing him time to gain physical strength.

The independent part of living on campus, and time management, were also life skills Nyquist felt he learned better in college hockey than he would have in junior.

"You grow up a little bit faster," Nyquist said. "Managing your time with school and hockey, you're cooking for yourself, you're not staying with a billet family (as in junior hockey), you have to take care of yourself.

"You grow up faster."

The education was stressed by his parents.

"They've always been keen about education," Nyquist said. "My siblings, me included, have always taken care of business in school. It's always been important. I wanted to continue that."

A semester from earning his degree in business finance, Nyquist insists he will get the degree in the near future.

"For sure," said Nyquist, who left Maine after his junior year to sign with the Red Wings. "If you don't, it's like throwing away three years of your education in a way. Why throw it away? It would seem kind of stupid."