As mentioned in our previous free agent profile examining Mats Zuccarello, the New Jersey Devils have holes to fill in their top-six. Zuccarello was just one of many great options the Devils can choose to fill this gap. While he was an older option, general manager Ray Shero may want to pursue someone a little younger. And forward Gustav Nyquist can be that guy.
A player that should be near the top, if not at the top of the Devils’ list, is Nyquist. The 29-year-old right wing had a career year last season split between the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks. He compiled 60 points (22 G, 38 A) in 81 games, which is the highest total of his career and also owns a career Corsi For % (CF%) of 53.2 percent, which is comfortably above the league average. Over the past three years, this number has been even better at 54.1%. This just shows Nyquist is in the heart of his prime.
His even-strength goals above replacement (ev_GAR) rating last season of 12.2 placed him 15th among qualified forwards last season. This statistic does a great job of measuring a player’s all-around efficiency. Nyquist’s rating put him above stars such as Nikita Kucherov, Aleksander Barkov, and Mitch Marner. This does not mean he is better than any of those guys but it means he was uber-productive and no doubt a top-six guy.
The chart above is a great visualization of Nyquist’s impact. Over the past three seasons, Nyquist has had a very positive impact on his team’s Off_GF, Off_xG, and Off_CF. The last two bars, although not as impressive as the offensive
Nyquist is coming off a four-year deal paying him $4.75 million annually. He will no doubt be asking for an increase, which is will be well warranted. Even though the Devils have a plethora of cap space they must be careful as re-signing assets such as Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, and Will Butcher are right on the horizon.
However, current projections for Nyquist – via @EvolvingWild– is six years at $5,753,342 annually. If this is the case, Shero should try his hardest to lure Nyquist to the Devils. At 29 years old, a five to six-year deal would be just fine, and the annual salary is also pretty spot on with someone as talented as Nyquist.
All-in-all, Nyquist is one of the more underrated wings in the NHL. At only 29-years of age, there are no indications of a decline in his game. This makes a longer contract – which Nyquist will definitely receive – a perfectly fine investment. Plugging him into a top-six that desperately needs an upgrade will go above and beyond in improving the Devils’ offense. Hopefully, and as he should, Shero makes a strong push in trying to sign Nyquist.