Nyquist to San Jose: What this deal means for the Sharks' Stanley Cup aspirations

The Gus Bus has rumbled into town, and everyone is hoping the talented winger can get San Jose over the hump

Gabriel John Ostler
February 26, 2019 - 9:30 am

When Sharks general manager Doug Wilson announces his presence on the trade market, other teams take notice.

After declaring that San Jose would likely be buyers at the deadline, Wilson followed through, executing a classic swap between haves and have-nots as he acquired right winger Gustav Nyquist and his expiring contract from the moribund Detroit Red Wings.

Here’s what you need to know about the newest player donning the teal, and the deal that brought him to the Shark Tank.

Player Profile

Too often, “consistent” is used as one of those backhanded compliments, directed at an individual who does nothing eye-popping enough to merit leading with a more invigorating adjective when describing what the player brings to the table. However, in Nyquist’s case, it’s important to note his remarkable dependability.

Drafted in 2008, Nyquist skated in on the dying embers of Detroit’s dynasty.

Since he started getting regular ice time in 2013-14, the Red Wings have had three first-round playoff exits followed by three putrid seasons. And yet, even while surrounded by crumbling infrastructure, Nyquist has held firm in his production, not once dipping below 40 points in a campaign.

He’s currently on pace for his greatest point total in the NHL despite playing for a squad sitting at 23-31-9. A large portion of that is due to his tremendous skills as a passer and as a puck protector.

It just so happens that those two areas are of great need for the Sharks. While San Jose is strong on the attack, they are sometimes lacking in offensive zone possession time, and can feature questionable passing outside of top-flight feeders and Joes Thornton and Pavelski.

Cost of Doing Business

The Sharks don’t have the cap space to re-sign Nyquist in the offseason. As he is then a classic case of a rental, Gus did not come with too steep of a price tag, given his evident ability. San Jose surrendered a second-round pick in 2019 and a conditional third-rounder in 2020.

Two things about this. One: the Sharks are running remarkably low on draft selections. Out of 14 allotted choices in the aforementioned years, San Jose has just six remaining, plus one toss-in fifth-rounder from the Ottawa Senators brought in by the Erik Karlsson trade.

Secondly, the conditional aspect of the 2020 third-rounder could deplete the Sharks’ draft capital even further. The condition attached is that if San Jose makes the coming Stanley Cup Finals, the selection bumps up into the second round. Therefore, if the trade works as it ostensibly should and pushes the Sharks further into title contention, they will not be picking before the third round until 2021.

Done Deal

Wilson was vocal in his desire to add forward depth and, on most levels, it seems he did excellent work in getting his man.

Gustav Nyquist is an extremely talented and reliable winger who excels in two particular areas where the Sharks can be soft outside of center: puck possession and pinpoint passing.

Even for a rental, Nyquist came relatively cheap. Additionally, he waived his no-trade-clause in order to come to San Jose, which speaks volumes to his belief in the Sharks’ title aspirations.

While it’s also good to see the Sharks hold on to prospects like Dylan Gambrell in their dogged pursuit for value in the trade market, it’s still important to note that incoming draft classes are going to be much thinner, especially if the move has its desired impact.

But overall, San Jose knows exactly what this deal represents: a chance to push their championship contender chips further to the center of the table. Wilson believes that this team has a legitimate chance to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup come the halcyon days of early summer and he’s done just about everything in his power to realize that possibility.

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