The rich just got richer.
The San Jose Sharks entered the Trade Deadline as the only team in the league with eight 40-plus point scorers. Yesterday, they added a ninth in Gustav Nyquist.
For the all-in Sharks, it’s a hard-to-argue-with deal. A 2019 second-rounder and a 2020 third-rounder (which becomes a second-rounder if the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent re-signs with San Jose) is a small price for a big talent.
But where does a team as deep as San Jose fit Nyquist? And should there be any concern that the Sharks added a scorer for the playoffs who’s picked up just eight points in 35 post-season contests?
“Smart, skilled, can finish,” said one scout. “Can be used on either wing and anywhere in your top-nine.”
Another scout offered, “Will be good with Thornton. He’s going to score.”
More quick than fast, Nyquist is adept at flashing in and out of open spaces to unleash his wrister.
A Marcus Sorensen — Joe Thornton — Nyquist line seems like an immediate possibility, as does an Evander Kane — Tomas Hertl — Nyquist trio. But anyway, there’s no reason to worry about this too much, what with Peter DeBoer’s penchant to blend 5-on-5 lines at a moment’s notice.
More static are power play units. These are San Jose’s most common groups when healthy:
On Detroit’s man advantage, Nyquist would usually occupy the slot, where Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane are currently situated. This is a great place for tips, deflections and one-timers. It’s hard to see Nyquist displacing either Hertl or Kane, though.
Meanwhile, along the walls, Logan Couture and Joe Thornton are untouchable. This is more of a playmaking role. So could Nyquist replace Kevin Labanc or Marc-Edouard Vlasic?
Probably not Labanc. It’s telling that Labanc has kept his spot on the top power play unit, drawing in above more celebrated names.
The results back him up: He leads all Sharks with 7.1 points per 60 at 5-on-4. His on-ice 123.73 Corsi for/60 and 70.95 scoring chances for/60 at 5-on-4 also pace the squad; essentially, when Labanc’s on the ice, his power play unit is earning a team-leading number of chances.
Vlasic, on the other hand, is replaceable on the power play. And Nyquist, over his career, has proven to be a slick playmaker. So I suspect that’s where we’ll see Nyquist on the power play to start, with Tim Heed taking Erik Karlsson’s spot until he returns from injury.
As for Nyquist’s historical lack of playoff productivity, Doug Wilson addressed that in his post-trade deadline press conference:
He’s played in the Olympics, he’s played in the World Championships. He plays the game a certain way and we think plugging him in with type of players we have, he’s going to be very successful. This is a guy who’s got great character, we did a lot of research. We don’t have any concerns about him being able to step up in big situations.
A scout agreed, “The previous playoffs are a non-factor with this San Jose team.”
However, The Athletic’s Craig Custance noted, “At times, Nyquist has frustrated for not always playing the hardest game.”
Another Detroit-based writer added, “I like Nyquist, but he’s soft and more of a playmaker. Maybe San Jose will put him in a position to succeed.”
We’ll see shortly who the real Nyquist is.