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2018-19 Season Review: Gustav Nyquist was a good rental

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Other teams are definitely going to give Goose offers the Sharks can’t match.

May 19, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Gustav Nyquist controls the puck against the St. Louis Blues during the second period in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center at San Jose. Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Gustav Nyquist spent most of the 2018 season, as he had his career, in Detroit. He joined the San Jose Sharks at the trade deadline in exchange for two draft picks. He had been a first-to-second line bridge player this season in Detroit. When he arrived in San Jose, he was put on the third line with Joe Thornton and Kevin Labanc. On March 9, he jumped up to the second line with Joonas Donskoi and Tomas Hertl. From then on, he played in the top-six until the Sharks’ season ended last week. He also appeared in our Fear the Fin Player Power Rankings three times in the regular season.

Nyquist finished his few months with the Sharks with six goals and five assists for 11 total points. Including his time in Detroit, he reached exactly 60 points in 2018-19.

Gustav Nyquist player card Getty Images/Fear the Fin illustration by JD Young

In the playoffs, Nyquist appeared in all 20 games. He scored one goal and added 10 assists for 11 points, nearly identical to his 19 regular season games in teal. He began the playoffs on the second line. He spent Game 4 of the Vegas series back on the third line, but by the start of the Colorado series, he made it back up to the top line. That’s where he stayed for both the Colorado and St. Louis series.

Career Summary (via HockeyViz)

Gustav’s short time in San Jose will always be in our hearts, or something. | HockeyViz

Since becoming a full-time NHL player about a third of the way into the 2013-14 season, Nyquist had generally been a second line player for the Red Wings, occasionally dropping down to the third line or spending a few games as a top-liner. Aside from a peak late in his age-24 season, he’s been a steady 2 points-per-hour producer. That number dipped a little bit once he arrived in San Jose, but he was still reliable for over a point per hour.

RAPM Chart (via Evolving Hockey)

Nyquist was great at even strength, but un-good on the power play | Evolving Hockey

Nyquist was a key contributor of goals-for and expected goals for his teams during even strength. The left chart above shows that he was over standard deviations above a replacement player’s performance in the first two offensive categories. He was also a bit above average at offensive Corsi-for and in the defensive zone, though his personal impact wasn’t as strong.

On the power play, he performed at around one standard deviation below the “average” of his position. Keep in mind, the majority of Nyquist’s season was in Detroit, and he only played on the second power play unit in San Jose. Detroit’s power play ended at 18.1 percent effectiveness, while the Sharks’ finished the regular season having converted on 23.6 percent of opportunities.

Highlight

Nyquist started this sequence on the left side of the ice, helping to pressure the Colorado Avalanche on their own boards. As soon as the puck was swept toward the right corner, Nyquist peeled off and crossed in front of the net. Evander Kane harried Patrick Nemeth into directing the puck towards the net — probably a pass attempt to Derick Brassard that Kane redirected slightly. The puck met Nyquist at the perfect time for him to receive it, control it, and shoot it past Semyon Varlamov before Erik Johnson could do anything.

That goal put the Sharks up 4-2 on the Avalanche in Nyquist’s 500th career NHL game. The Sharks went on to win 5-2.

What comes next?

Nyquist is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and it’s very unlikely the Sharks can keep him. Evolving Hockey predicts that he’ll get $5.7 million on a six-year deal. The only way the Sharks would have the cap room to sign him at that number is if both Joe Pavelski and Erik Karlsson decide to go elsewhere before July 1. We would all be sad if that happened.

Once July 1 hits, multiple teams are probably going to call on him. Our SB Nation colleagues at Die by the Blade believe he’d be a good fit in Buffalo.