Red Wings’ Nyquist sets sights on big scoring increase

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — You can look at Gustav Nyquist’s season in different ways, and come out with different opinions regarding it.

Some Red Wings fans were thrilled with the fact Nyquist returned to being a 20-goal scorer, 21 to be precise the most since 2014-15 (27 goals).

He had a career-high with 213 shots on net, played just under 18 minutes per game (17:51, a career high), and his analytics statistics were among the best on the team.

But, then, there were some downsides, too.

After having a career-high 36 assists the season before, Nyquist dipped to a career-low 19 this past season.

Also a career-low was Nyquist’s point total, dipping to 40. His three power-play goals were only one more than the disappointing two power-play goals he scored a year ago.

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In all the eight power-play points Nyquist had for the season were a career low.

Good, and bad.

But in Nyquist’s view, clearly, this season wasn’t good enough — individually or from a team standpoint.

“I don’t think I’m happy when I’m standing here talking to you guys in April,” Nyquist said during last week’s locker clean out. “I have to find a way to be better.”

What irked Nyquist was the goals he felt were there to be had, only to be squandered away.

“I scored a little more goals this year but I still think I created enough chances to score more,” Nyquist said. “I want to produce more than I did. I’ve got to find a way here during the summer to do some things and to get better for next year and have a big season.”

What pleased coach Jeff Blashill about Nyquist’s season was the approach Nyquist brought to the ice.

Blashill met with Nyquist before the previous season and reinforced the need for Nyquist to play with a “relentless” approach.

Watching Nyquist since then, and his work on and with the puck, the conversation worked.

“He and I talked about it the beginning of last season, about the importance of being totally relentless in his approach, and on a lot of nights he’s done that,” Blashill said. “He’s been one of our hardest workers on a consistent basis and one of our biggest battlers.”

In Blashill’s estimation, Nyquist could easily be closer to 30 goals next season given a bit more good fortune.

“If he gets those chances a year from now, we’re sitting at 25 or 26 goals instead of 20,” Blashill said. “(He had a) ton of good chances. The fact he’s gotten to 20 doesn’t surprise me.”

The Red Wings will need to make a large decision in regard to Nyquist, beyond next season.

Nyquist, 28, heads into the final year of his contract, with a cap hit of $4.75 million — a very reasonable deal for a team looking to add scoring, provided Nyquist lifts his no-trade clause.

It’ll be interesting to see whether the Red Wings feel Nyquist is a part of the future on this rebuilding roster, or whether they feel there are young players ready to take his ice time and role going forward.

Not making the playoffs the last two seasons, Nyquist said, has been a disappointment.

“You want to play hockey this time of year,” Nyquist said. “All the fun starts (in April). For two years in a row now, it’s tough to not be playing, be part of it right now.

“A lot of our young guys took steps this year and became larger parts of our team. We all have to have a big summer here and have to come back better next year.

“We were in a lot of them (close, one-goal games) for sure. At the same time, saying that, we lost a lot of them and we have to find a way to get that extra goal, to make the extra play on offense or keep the puck out of the net.”