Last season, Nyquist was a breath of fresh air for a Red Wings team that struggled in all facets of the game and ended up missing the playoffs for the first time in a quarter century. The Swede compensated for a lackluster 7.3 shooting percentage by dialing in a career-high 36 assists, and he was one of only three Detroit starters to navigate through the tumultuous season without a negative plus-minus. Gus has two years remaining on his contract -- he'll make $4.75 million per season -- and team brass protected him from the Golden Knights in the expansion draft. When the Wings traded Thomas Vanek to the Panthers at the March 1 deadline, Nyquist was a direct beneficiary, as he blew up for 19 points (five goals, 14 assists) in the final 20 games. His scoring totals have slipped precipitously since his career high of 28 goals from the 2013-14 season, but Detroit's fourth-round pick (No. 121 overall) from the 2008 draft has found other ways to contribute offensively for his fantasy owners. A full season without Vanek should be enough to remind Nyquist that he's at his best when he plays an assertive game. Consider selecting him as a steady complement to some of the more elite forwards available on draft day.
Nyquist took a step back offensively in 2015-16, netting 10 fewer goals than the previous campaign, with his power-play tallies cut in half. He did play in all 82 games for the second consecutive season, finishing with 17 goals and 26 assists. Expectations had been at an all-time high for Gus after he signed a four-year, $19 million contract extension last July, but the coaching change from Mike Babcock to Jeff Blashill proved to be a tough adjustment and there weren’t as many shots to go around due to the quick emergence of then-rookie Dylan Larkin. Still, Nyquist has tremendous hockey sense, skates smoothly, and is comfortable working as a pivot or winger in the top-six group of forwards. He’s most likely to be centered by the talented Frans Nielsen on the second line, and with the Red Wings overhauling their assistant coaching staff in the offseason, a return to the 50-point mark should be attainable for the Swede in his age-27 season.
While Nyquist set a career high in points with 54 last year, that actually represents a significant decline from the previous season's scoring rate, and his rating dipped sharply from plus-16 to minus-11. That downturn certainly gave the Swedish winger some things to work on over this offseason. Fortunately, all signs points to him enacting improvements in his game this year -- Nyquist has shown plenty of star qualities in the past, and he's locked into a top-six role with the Wings again. He's not the sort of guy who'll turn over the puck too much or get caught out of place defensively, and Nyquist's elite hands and strong skating ability should lift him into the upper echelon of NHL forwards this year.
Nyquist nearly single-handedly helped push Detroit to a playoff spot in 2013-14, scoring 28 goals and 20 assists in just 57 games. He looked a little overwhelmed in the playoffs, but the 24-year-old is clearly a star in the making. He is primed for a big season in 2014-15, and could move into the top tier of fantasy wingers. While a slump is possible in his second true NHL season, odds are good that he finds another gear and eclipses his performance.
Nyquist impressed in Detroit over the last part of the season and especially in the playoffs, where he provided the Wings with quite a spark when things weren't going well. He should be the frontrunner for the fourth-line center position, although he doesn't have much fantasy value with six points in 22 games last season.
With a couple of opportunities to impress head coach Mike Babcock as a rookie during stints with the big club last season, Nyquist made his mark and ultimately saw time during the playoff series against Nashville. He may not immediately get a top-six forward spot, but Nyquist has a very bright future and would be a candidate to reach 35-40 points even if he ends up skating on the third line with Darren Helm next season. It is expected that Nyquist will develop into a point-per-game player in the long run, and he may be able to play his way onto a scoring line sooner rather than later if he's able to bulk up and make an impression during camp after the Wings' free-agent exploits failed to bring in an elite sniper.