Krupa: Gustav Nyquist wants to be playmaker in a Red Wings' turnaround
Detroit — Whether he is pleased with his solid offensive production and ample playmaking, Gus Nyquist says he is having difficulty seeing beyond the number in the wins column.
The bright 29-year-old seems momentarily flummoxed when offered a chance to talk about his 27 assists through 45 games.
That is more in the second week of January than in all but one of his previous seven seasons.
“Yeah, I mean,” he began, before trailing off. “I think — you know, you want to win, honestly.
“Personally, I’m a guy who usually thinks about how we’re doing as a team. And, right now, we haven’t won as many games as we wanted to.”
At the head of the season, when Henrik Zetterberg stepped aside, Nyquist’s role as a playmaker became integral to any hopes for the Wings’ success.
Nyquist had four more assists than his linemate Dylan Larkin, entering play Friday to lead the team.
His 37 points put him easily within striking distance of his career-best 54 points in 2014-15, when he achieved an even split of 27 goals and 27 assists.
With Mike Green rejoining the Wings, his offense may increase.
Sky's the limit
A 70-point season feels well within reach.
So far, it is the epitome of “quietly having a good year.”
Nyquist’s performance is vital for a Red Wings lineup that entered the weekend 18th in goals for and 26th in goal differential.
In the last season of his contract, with negotiating a new deal apparently not a priority and trade talk swirling, Nyquist is integral to carrying the load in a rebuilding season for the Red Wings.
“I mean, it’s been going pretty well,” he said. “I feel confident out there. I feel some chemistry with Larks and we like playing with each other.
“So, that’s been fun, and hopefully we can continue to produce offensively.”
He agreed that the earlier success of the club in his career, which came routinely, makes the losses incurred during rebuilding a little more difficult to accept this season.
“My first years here, you know that in a town like this is expected given all the success the team has had in the past,” Nyquist said. “For sure, it’s not fun.
“But, at the same time, we’ve all got to look in the mirror, each one of us that’s put us in this position and see what we can do differently to help the team out and become a better team that way.
“I think over the course of the season we’ve shown some good stretches where we could be a good team. But, it sure seems it’s a matter of doing it more consistently.”
The Wings drafted Nyquist in the fourth round in 2008, 131st overall.
He split two seasons in Grand Rapids and Detroit, before a breakout season in 2013-14 where he posted 28 goals and 20 assists.
With the 27-27 performance the next season, it seemed Nyquist might eventually produce 30 goals and 70 points.
But, it also appeared like the Red Wings were set for a successful “rebuild on the fly,” with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg in the lineup, a handful of prospects among the defensemen in Grand Rapids, perhaps a valuable free agent or two and Nyquist and Tomas Tatar.
Instead, with the Wings possibly facing a third consecutive season out of the playoffs, he is major support for a far fuller reconstruction required by the circumstances.
No talks are occurring on a new contract for Nyquist, whose four-year, $19 million deal expires this season.
It is more likely he will be approached by the Red Wings over the next six weeks to wave his no trade clause. The trade deadline is 3 p.m., Monday, Feb. 25.
Of any ongoing negotiations, Nyquist said, “not as of now.”
“So, obviously, I know my situation,” he said.
“We’ll see what happens.
“It’s a business,” he said. “We’ll see what happens, here, in the near future.”
As for his ability to control where he might be sent and whether he has considered the possibilities, Nyquist deferred.
“I don’t think I want to speculate on that, yet,” he said.
“You know what? It’s got to be a good fit for both sides.
“I do love it here,” Nyquist said. “In saying that, I want to win, too.”
And, he says he perceives the possibility to both continue to love it in Detroit and win.
“In looking at that and the future, here, I think we have a lot of good prospects coming up in the system,” Nyquist said. “We have a lot of young players that have really taken steps towards becoming a great team.
“So, we can do that build and become a better team.”
Meanwhile, the market in forwards is for the buyers at this trade deadline.
Nyquist need only look across the room to Thomas Vanek, who could also wave his no-trade status, to see a player other teams are considering.
In addition to the two Red Wings, the list of forwards likely available for trading begins with the Blue Jackets' Artemi Panarin, Flyers' Wayne Simmonds, Rangers duo Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello, and Senators pair Matt Duchene and Mark Stone.
With the surplus, the haul GM Ken Holland deftly obtained 11 months ago from the Golden Knights for Tomas Tatar, picks in the first round (2018), second (2019) and third (2021), may be too much to expect for Nyquist.
Decisions will be made.
And, Nyquist hopes to continue making plays.