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On Nyquist’s road to the NHL

So I wrote this on Twitter, and I think it's important to relate to you.

So I'm at the Wings' summer camp in 2010, and Nyquist is there. He's absolutely scrawny, not Jarnkrok or Daniel Larsson scrawny, but close. 5'10," 160 pounds.

Very seriously, this kid, who's been growing up in Sweden, and has a pronounced accent, says he's gonna play college hockey at Maine. Says the language issue won't be a problem.

He's not exactly giving me the Riley Sheahan, "Aww shucks" or the Tomas Tatar, "I must break into this league" death stare, but he's confident that he'll do fine.

Kid does well at Maine but everybody says he's too short and too slight. Kid does great academically at Maine but you still hear the same thing.
Instead of the usual, "These guys won't bulk up" talk, the Wings' brass said that Nyquist was getting bigger and stronger, working hard, looked good.

Everybody said he was the Wings' secret weapon.

Got buried in Grand Rapids for too long, we all know it, but he's quietly, confidently and simply patiently waited things out--he was OK with the concept of going to GR at camp, though he wasn't thrilled about it, it kind of rolled off his back like water off a goose's--and now all the hard work he's put in over the past half-decade is paying off.

The moral of the Nyquist story: even for extremely talented prospects, it takes time and a lot of hard work. Those who embrace it succeed. It's a process, it's embracing a lifestyle, it's not just showing up. Nyquist has worked for everything he's got. Talent is only part of it.

People ask why I'm high on Mantha. Because he talked like Nyquist. Lots of, "I have to work on this" acknowledgments of his deficiencies.

The Wings like to point at Zetterberg/Datsyuk as examples for players because they *still work* on stuff in practice, still try to improve.

They're the examples of how hard you have to work to succeed--and now Nyquist is another member of that exclusive club.

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Comments

stonehands-78's avatar

Good stuff, GJM.

Thanks for sharing.

L.G.R.W.

Posted by stonehands-78 from the beginning ... a WingsFan, on 03/23/14 at 09:31 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Strangely…Nyquist’s loudest skeptic on this site has gone strangely quiet over the past few weeks while Nyquist puts this team on his back. Only one point tonight but I will take it.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 03/23/14 at 09:38 PM ET

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I was thinking that fluffy. He put up a post with a low ball estimate of what Nyquist would do, and i put up a high, I thought at the time I think, of 20-25 goals and 60 points. It’s nice to see The Goose just killing that.

Posted by teldar on 03/23/14 at 09:46 PM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

Nyquist just a month or more ago was still falling prey to getting checked often by men with more reach, but of late he looks to be finding more space to work and be more aggressive heading toward the net. He’s in a great groove.

Posted by MoreShoot on 03/23/14 at 10:05 PM ET

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Have to think that for Nyquist the Olympics were actually a positive.  Getting to play at that level, absorb a ton of info and then come back and put it to use.  He’s been fun to watch, and the longer his hot streak goes, the better for everyone.  He pushes all the other kids to go harder, all the way on down to Mantha as GM noted.

Posted by maltby18 on 03/23/14 at 10:20 PM ET

w2j2's avatar

I wish Kindl would add 20 pounds of muscle!

Posted by w2j2 on 03/23/14 at 10:23 PM ET

Figaro's avatar

With all these goals over this crucial stretch and fairly solid defensive play on this makeshift NHL team, one could almost say Nyquist has been the team’s…Savior?  tongue wink

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 03/23/14 at 11:16 PM ET

Zqto's avatar

Watching the game today, I had a thougth I didnt have for a looong time
Nyquist had that Yzerman look on him, that I loved so much.. And just look at Tatar’s face expression after his goal, that was awesome to watch
I love Zetts and Dats, but I think both Nyquist and Tatar bring something they dont. They have that look of hunger on their face, and Im not talking about food here

Will they be as good as Zetts and Dats? Probably not, but who knows?  I’ll enjoy watch them try

P.S.: I have’nt posted much, but I’m lurking aroud!

Posted by Zqto on 03/23/14 at 11:20 PM ET

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Nyquists loudest skeptic was Ken holland.  “Kids are NOT the answer”.

Posted by bababooey on 03/23/14 at 11:39 PM ET

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So with Z being out, anyone else think Nyquist for team MVP? Only other candidate I think would be Kronwall.

Posted by AZWinger on 03/24/14 at 12:17 AM ET

Hockeytown Wax's avatar

Nyquist MVP ?? hmmmmm ...
I’d hate to see where we’d be in the standings without Alfie.

Back to Nyquist though ... he’s been huge.  He’s done what management wanted Filppula to do for so many years and he $hit the bed every time the opportunity arose.  With Zets and Dats both injured, Nyquist has shown both skill and future leadership potential.  Fil never took advantage of any opportunity.  That’s why he’s gone.

And speaking of not scoring when we need him to ...
how long was Franzen’s goal scoring streak ?? 3 games ???  So many were giddy as a schoolgirl when Mule started scoring again.  I knew it wouldn’t last.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from West Bloomfield, Mi. on 03/24/14 at 05:35 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

Re: Team MVP—Has to be Kronwall. Love what Nyquist and Tatar have done, and even Sheahan has shown he’s the real deal. But last night they showed Kronwall’s numbers this year, then later in the game, showed Suter’s. Kronwall has basically been Suter-level-good since he took over the #1 spot for Lidstrom.

Re: Mantha—I see what you mean, George, and it’s great to hear Mantha shows a positive, hard-working attitude, but let’s not kid ourselves either… Mantha is showing a lot more talent and developed skill much earlier than Nyquist did. I know the Q is high scoring, but a goal-a-game and over 2 points-per-game at age 19 is rare anywhere, and his WJC performance was dynamite, too. The Wings haven’t had a prospect with this much deserved hype and promise since… Yzerman? Sure, a lot of that has been due to great scouting for later round picks and the fact that the likes of Fedorov, Lidstrom, Konstantinov, and even Holmstrom, Datsyuk, and Zetterberg were still of an era where the Wings had a huge leg up in Europe simply because nobody else knew just what was going on over there.

Re: Nyquist’s potential—I don’t see this as being negative, but I do think we should put Nyquist’s current run in perspective. What’s the best case scenario for him at the end of the year? Probably 30 goals. Is he really anything more than 30 goals at his peak? I sure as shit hope so, but I’m not holding my breath. He skates well and isn’t afraid to shoot the puck, but he’s still smaller, and given his development path, closer to his peak than someone like Sheahan, Jurco, or Pulkkinen. Realistically, if Nyquist replaces Filppula’s point production, albeit with more goals and fewer assists, as he’s a winger that’s willing to fire it, I’ll be thrilled. I don’t expect him to be mini-lefty-Shanahan.

Also, there’s the reality-check of small sample size. Given how he’s played since last season, I think the sample size is there to tell us he’s a good hockey player and will contribute to this team plenty in the future. But I don’t think the sample size is there for his current hot goal scoring form to consider it a sign of things to come. We’ve seen William Tell go on hot streaks like this. Hell, even Franzen is prone to this type of streakiness, and Franzen has much better physical tools to be a 30 - 40 goal shooter than Nyquist does.

If Nyquist is a consistent 25-goal man for the foreseeable future, I think the Wings nailed it and we should be really happy with that. I’m just concerned as a fan base we’ll do the same to him we did to Filppula… always want a little bit more, a little bit more… just setting ourselves up for being disappointed through no fault of the actual player who was remarkably consistent in his performances.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 03/24/14 at 09:00 AM ET

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Nyquist still has a lot to prove - mainly, that he can do this over the long haul, as well as taking care of his own end - but he also has shown the first signs of a guy who can legitimately carry the torch beyond the Zetterberg/Datsyuk era. Tatar is good, but he hasn’t dominated for a stretch like Gustav. Sheahan even seems to have passed Tatar, although what we’re really looking at is 3 kids who are the next wave for Detroit and all are succeeding (with Jurco just behind that group and Mantha a couple years away). That’s a good core.

Just throw Calle Jarnkrok into the mix - a guy who’s earned an assist in each of his first two NHL games - and we’ve got a great core beyond the Zetterberg/Datsyuk era…

Oh. Wait….

Anyways, I am not going to say I predict Nyquist to play at this level. I expected him to be in the 40 points range (for an 82 game season). He’s far exceeded my expectations, without question.

That said, I really wonder how/if HiHD will find a way to spin this in a way that suits the narrative he’s been trying to continue since Nyquist came to Detroit. After Nyquist’s initial burst out of the gate, he hit a bit of a wall and HiHD took the opportunity to summarize the low quality of Nyquist’s points to that point (“he scored them in unimportant situations and only in a few multi-point games). Since Gus has been on fire for the last 2 months, HiHD has made one post, where he clung to his rationale for discounting his expectations of Nyquist (“well, he’s never scored goals like this at any point in his career” - basically, to tell everyone “it’s just an anomaly and really, I’m still right”). He wants to be right even when he’s wrong.

In a good-natured way, I’d like to see him (or her) come and face the music. HiHD has earned a little grief here.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 03/24/14 at 09:11 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Great post, George.  I have really, really enjoyed watching “the kids” this season, and it makes me very optimistic for the Wings’ future.  Gus/Goose/Nyke is the real deal, without a doubt.  He’s got a nose for the net.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 03/24/14 at 09:26 AM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

Team MVP is hard one.  You got Gus for obvious reasons, Kronwall certainly emerged as a leader moreso than MVP, Tatar tot, and why not some love for Glenny, no scoresheet impact but this guy goes from an after thought college free agent, to matching up and shutting down with Crosby and Parise?

To me though, hard to ignore the impact of Danny Dekeyser, imagine where this team would be without him.  He’s made a few more gaffes of late, but for the most part, the kids is smooth, and quietly gets teh job done, when he moves the puck off his stick, it stays within wings possession, or allows for a regroup, and you can’t say the same consistently for any wings Dman, Kronwall included.

Posted by MurrayChadwick on 03/24/14 at 10:28 AM ET

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why not some love for Glenny

Because MVP is a guy who is irreplaceable and, all due respect to Glendening, he’s replaceable.

Posted by Garth on 03/24/14 at 10:49 AM ET

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Glendening is absolutely replaceable. He’s played well in the role he’s in. But he and Andersson may be out of jobs next year if the team resigns Legwand. I can’t even predict next year’s roster. That doesn’t even account for the idea that there may be a big move during the offseason to get a scorer or defenseman.

My guess is that they will try to put Glendening on the wing on the 4th line with Miller and Helm as the center. Although where does that leave Sheahan if they resign Legwand?

Making my head spin.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 03/24/14 at 11:27 AM ET

Primis's avatar

Kronwall.

He’s had some stinker games.  He’s really, really had trouble adjusting to being THE guy.  And.. somewhere in the past week or so he seems to have decided “You know what, screw it” and play more *his* way instead of setting it all aside to meet expectations.

I tweeted to George last night that Kronwall has been much more physical and snarly recently.  He really has, he’s more engaged.  I think he’s playing more than analyzing and over-thinking.  He’s still not perfect but… he seems to just be relying more on his instincts and way than he has been.  And I think DET has needed that, badly.

Posted by Primis on 03/24/14 at 11:56 AM ET

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Although where does that leave Sheahan

I think Sheahan probably gets shifted to the wing too.

Posted by Garth on 03/24/14 at 12:27 PM ET

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Garth - try to predict the 4 lines next year. I’ll give it a whirl…

Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Abdelkader
Alfredsson-Weiss-Franzen
Tatar-Sheahan-Nyquist
Miller/Andersson/Glendening-Legwand-Miller/Helm

That assumes Jurco is back in GR next year. Where does Helm play? Does Sheahan play in GR? The team is better with him than without him. There are 6 guys to fill out the 4th line…

Also, keep in mind that Babcock needs his penalty killers. That’s why it would surprise me if Glendening and Miller are not regulars in the lineup.

Where does that leave Ferraro and Callahan? For the record, I’d be cool with moving Abdelkader and/or Helm. I’d love to see the Wings move some of these guys and try to get a first round pick (like, at the end of the round). Then, I’d like to see them trade up into the top-5 (i.e., swap both 1st rounders for a high pick). Just an idea…

I mean, this thing gets sticky very quickly. What’s your lineup look like?

Posted by VitoLambruski on 03/24/14 at 12:42 PM ET

Hockeytown Wax's avatar

Yikes !!  Lots of bodies and lots of line possibilities for next season.

The deeper into the playoffs go but don’t win the cup, I think Alfie comes back.
By some cosmic hockey miracle we win the cup this year then you have to figure he retires.

Most likely Bertuzzi is done.  Sounds like Cleary’s knee is going to force him to retire.  The smartest move for Samuelsson would be to go back to Sweden to finish his career.  If Legwand can’t get rid of his groinage pain and they have to go back in to remove some scar tissue, he won’t be ready for the beginning of the season.

Sending Jurco and Sheahan back to G.R. just because they can go back will screw up their games.  They’ve been here too long and have gotten used to the pace of the NHL.  Going back to the AHL could screw up their timing when they come back to the NHL.  If they’re good enough to stay now then just keep them here.

Periodically, I try to think ahead to next season and just end up confusing myself even more than I already am.  At this moment, I’m going to have to chicken out and play the wait & see game.  We’ll see who retires and see who’s healthy at the end of the season then take it from there.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from West Bloomfield, Mi. on 03/24/14 at 08:20 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.