We’re so locked in on the Nashville Predators getting Matt Duchene, but Gustav Nyquist would be a nice consolation prize if Duchene attempt fails.
There’s no doubt that if the Nashville Predators fail to land coveted free agent Matt Duchene, it will be a huge letdown. The Predators are choosing to let a lot of players go, most notably P.K. Subban, so that they can in large part pursue Duchene, among others. We have to come to the realization that even if the Predators are the consensus favorites to land Duchene, it’s very conceivable that he stays in Columbus or goes elsewhere.
All will not be lost if Duchene doesn’t end up in Nashville. It will be a tough pill to swallow, but there are others to go after. My top consolation prize in this regard is the trusted veteran winger Gustav Nyquist. He’s a steady contributor who will bring depth scoring and veteran leadership behind the top line. This is a perfect fit for the Predators as they look for an offensive boost to their bottom six, or even the second line if Peter Laviolette were to make that roster move. Far too often the Predators relied on the top line to carry them to wins, which came up dry in the first round of the playoffs.
A lot of competing will be involved in getting Nyquist. The veteran heading near age 30 still has plenty of productive years left in him. He finished the season off strong with San Jose, who might not be able to retain him to due to having several other key players they have to tend to. The Predators remain an enticing franchise for many free agents to play for, and Nyquist seems like a real possibility that would make sense for both sides.
Nyquist’s career in a nutshell
Nyquist is most recently coming off of a 60-point campaign in his split season with Detroit and San Jose. He played a quality role at right wing for the top line of San Jose, helping them come up just short of the Stanley Cup Final. What’s encouraging is that even at age 29 he’s still putting up solid offensive numbers and setting career highs. His 38 assists and 60 points this past season were both career highs.
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Nyquist began a full-time role with the Red Wings in 2013-14, tallying 48 points. Since then he’s been a consistent 20-plus goal scorer and has posted some 30-plus assist seasons as well. This is the kind of production the Predators need on the second line. Craig Smith has been that guy for years with the Predators, but they need more consistent offensive threats to make that jump next season and avoid a rebuilding year.
In his most recent production, Nyquist came up solid in San Jose’s 20 playoff games, posting 11 points and ten assists. That’s saying much more than what some certain Predators players did in their short postseason run. He’s also not going to take sloppy penalties, another issue the Predators had. He had a modest 12 penalty minutes this past season. They could’ve used a smart player like Nyquist on the second line against the Stars.
One cause for pause with Nyquist and matching him with the Predators is he doesn’t have strong power play numbers recently. He has just nine power play goals over the past four seasons. We all know the woes of the Predators on the power play and the urge to fix this area quickly if they’re going to avoid a similar fate of being ousted in the first round. This doesn’t mean Nyquist can’t come in and provide a boost for the Predators power play if the coaching staff sees a fit for him. His ice vision and keen ability to set up the offense tells me he can find a resurgence on Nashville’s revamped power play if he were to come here.
Can they make a deal?
This deal is very conceivable for me if the Duchene deal breaks down. Duchene is obviously the top prize as the Predators desperately need another top-tier center way more than a winger. However, Nyquist is a more realistic free agent that will come for much less of a price tag. He can bolster the second line, which has greatly struggled over the last two seasons.
Nyquist is now a free agent for the first time in his career. For the Nashville Predators to get him, I would think they’re going to at least have to offer him a four to a five-year deal. His current team, San Jose, may not be willing to commit to him long-term. Should the Predators be willing to commit to him for that length? I believe if they fail to get Duchene. They have to get something worthwhile in return for dumping Subban’s salary and getting very little in return. They can’t leave this offseason empty-handed. However, Nyquist does seem happy in San Jose and would like to stay, per Chelena Goldman of NBC Sports. However, the Sharks have some hoops to jump through with retaining key players, and they can’t keep them all.
There will be plenty of competition for Nyquist if San Jose doesn’t retain him. A lot of teams need exactly what the Nashville Predators need, which is a proven veteran to bolster up the depth behind the top line. Many teams have solid, if not great, top lines.
The teams who have been able to stack their roster with quality depth compete for Stanley Cups. It’s my fear that the Predators are gradually slipping from that formula, and adding a player like Nyquist would help with that. He’s worth a four or five-year contract around five to six million.
The Nashville Predators could fit him in on the second line and would instantly make Smith, Kyle Turris, Nick Bonino, Colton Sissons or any other current Predator more productive. I’ll be very pleased if this deal happens.