13. Gustav Nyquist (96.5 pts)
Coming in at 13, Gustav Nyquist has made the most of a sorry situation. He debuted for the Red Wings in the 2011-2012 season and with Zetterberg, managed to shoulder much of the production for Detroit as they continued to age and they tried to keep the playoff streak alive. When he debuted, most were impressed with his sneaky speed, creativity to create with and without the puck, and his ability to beat skaters to the outside. The biggest shortcoming to his game is that Nyquist is undersized, but the Wild have had a bit of history utilizing undersized players; Zucker, Fiala, and Spurgeon are all 5’10” or shorter and Zach Parise is 5’11”, just like Goose.
He made the top 15, in large, because of his point production, age, and endurance (throughout the season and in games), but is held back for being left-handed, something the Wild already have plenty of. I was unsure really how to score the likelihood he would join the Wild, as he’s never really played with any Wild player during International play (Brodin and Ek were never on Team Sweden with Nyquist), but maybe Joel and Jonas can sell their fellow countrymen on the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
The Swede averages 16 goals per season, but with only playing about a quarter of the games the first two seasons with the pro squad, his season average is more like 22 goals per season. He’s never broken the 30 goal ceiling, coming close in 2013-2014 with 28 in 57 games. He consistently would contribute around 50 points per year. He’s capable of big-time minutes, averaging around 17:00 per game. Nyquist’s production likely also suffered from a lackluster team. Detroit made the playoffs 5 of the 7.5 seasons he was there but lost in the first round every year drastically except for Gustav’s second season (2012-2013) where they lost in the second round to the Blackhawks.(because remember when Detroit was in the West) In 2014-2015 they lost to Tampa Bay in game 7.
Gustav got traded to San Jose at the most recent deadline for a 2019 2nd round pick and a conditional 2020 3rd round pick (becomes a 2nd round pick should San Jose reach the 2019 Stanley Cup Final or re-sign Nyquist) to add more potent scoring ability. Since joining the Sharks, Gustav scored 6 goals and 5 assists in 19 games, averaging about .58pts per game, but has struggled a bit in the regular season and into the postseason. Not entirely uncommon for deadline transactions (see Martin Hanzal)
Gustav Nyquist could likely be higher on this list, but I don’t believe he’s reached his absolute potential as a scorer and playmaker. With multiple seasons on a team that wasn’t really contending and just trying to keep a realistically meaningless streak alive, Gustav’s best has yet to be seen. The contract the Detroit Red Wings gave him was 4 years, $19 Mil ($4.75 AAV) with a no-trade clause that kicked in the last two seasons (Gustav had to waive it to be moved to San Jose). I felt as this was a fairly aggressive contract by the Red Wings, possibly willing to splurge a bit and add movement protection to ensure he didn’t leave. That said, I think the contract is around what I would offer him now: 3 to 4 years worth $20 Mil to $22 Mil, but wary about the movement protection.
That wraps up Part 1 of my UFA ranking series. If you think Donskoi, Simmonds, or Nyquist are misranked, let me know. Make some predictions of who you think will be on the list, make your own assessments on players, or if you think Joonas, Wayne, or Goose would be good additions to the team. Come back next time to see who just miss the top ten.