Gustav Nyquist created plenty of buzz the Sunday night before the NHL trade deadline when the Sharks acquired him from the Detroit Red Wings. Since then, the 29-year-old forward -- who before now had never been traded through his entire hockey career -- has worked to acclimate to his new team.
That work paid off on the scoresheet Tuesday in Winnipeg, as the Swedish winger had two goals in San Jose's big 5-4 victory over the Jets. Nyquist has tallied four points in seven games with the Sharks, and generated some grade-A looks around the net that haven’t gone in.
For a player who’s been with a new team fewer than 10 games after leaving the only organization he's ever known, Nyquist already is gelling quite nicely -- and his contributions are coming in at an important time for the Sharks.
“He’s a puck hound out there,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said after the win. “Smart player, fits with our group, and the guys like to play with him.”
You really have to hand it to Nyquist for stepping up at a time when the team is dealing with some adversity. Sure, it might not look like it, given that San Jose currently sits atop the Western Conference standings. But since Nyquist has joined the Sharks, three key players have been sidelined with injuries -- All-Star defenseman Erik Karlsson, winger Evander Kane and blueliner Radim Simek, who was hurt in the first period Tuesday. Plus, the Sharks fought off a flu bug that went around the dressing room during their last homestand.
For a new player to mesh with a group despite those obstacles is nothing short of impressive.
“He’s an established guy, he’s an elite player, he’s great,” defenseman Brent Burns said in short about Nyquist acclimating to the team.
With a number of ailments keeping certain players out of the lineup, Nyquist has bounced around and played with different players over the short span of time he has worn teal. Nevertheless, the winger has looked comfortable in every spot in which he’s played.
When reporters in Winnipeg asked him about fitting in with the group so quickly, Nyquist was quick to compliment the level of talent he’s surrounded with in the Sharks' dressing room.
“They’re all really good players on this team,” he said. “It’s the first time I’ve joined a new team, playing differently. Playing with really good players out there makes it a lot easier, I think.”
Moving forward, that ease should turn itself into more goals. The Sharks have just 12 regular-season games left and are trying to hold onto that top spot in the standings, all while getting healthy and ready for a deep playoff run.
San Jose is lucky to play eight of its last 12 regular-season contests on home ice, where the Sharks have had a lot of success. But they’ll still have to defeat heavy-hitting squads such as the Nashville Predators, Vegas Golden Knights and Calgary Flames. Those same Flames are only one point back in the standings.
If there’s a good time for a new player like Nyquist to heat up and make big contributions, that time most certainly is now.