The Rejuvenation of Gustav Nyquist in First Year with Nashville Predators

The veteran 34-year-old forward has produced his best season ever in his first year with the Nashville Predators.
Mar 26, 2024; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators center Gustav Nyquist (14) celebrates
Mar 26, 2024; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators center Gustav Nyquist (14) celebrates / Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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All aboard the Gus Bus, Nashville Predators fans.

Gustav Nyquist was a free agent signed in 2023 offseason by GM Barry Trotz who had a few options and caveats that went with it. At his best, Nyquist had been a steady point producer, a very good skating forward, and a high IQ player. At his worst, he seemed like he might be slowing, his production lacking, and his defense was bad enough that his 2-year $6.37 million deal might be an overpay that is an overpay, but at least a moveable one.

The safest bet was that Nyquist would be a serviceable middle-six forward who could play on the power play and might get bumped up to the top line if there was a need or some chemistry. Not bad for a 34-year-old.

While fans and experts were waiting to see, Nyquist has been putting together his best season ever as the Nashville Predators have totally entrenched themselves as a playoff team to be reckoned with.

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Through 72 games Nyquist has put up 64 points (19 goals and 45 assists) and as a member of the Predators first line is helping propel Filip Forsberg to his best season (in 3 more points) and Ryan O'Reilly to his 2nd best season ever (in again, 3 more points).

While Nyquist wasn't a move that was as eye-popping as bringing in O'Reilly, it seems to be equally as important for the Predators offense.

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The Predators were happy to get Nyquist, a cap casualty for the Wild who attempted to retool on the fly like the Predators. They chose Marcus Johansson as their low-risk higher reward buy and he has only produced 28 points for them. They miss Nyquist's consistent scoring, and the rise in his numbers playing on the first line must have GM's across the league shaking their heads at the miss in letting him get away.

A quick search will help you find the same consistent facts about Nyquist. He's a high skill, high-IQ kind of player with very strong skating and an accurate, but selective shooter. That has held true through his time with the Predators. Playing with Forsberg and O'Reilly helps, but the fact is that Nyquist is the type of player that puts his teammates in positions to succeed.

The NHL season is long. Outside of the MLB season (which is a different kind of taxing) being good for a whole season is one of the rarest skills in the league. Nyquist being so consistent is a skill that is worth paying three million per year for. Then if you put that player with your team's best, you allow him to play a highly skill based game that pushes to his strengths.

Andrew Brunette Has Unlocked the Full Potential of Nyquist

The crucial factor that pushes Gus even further ahead? The high-tempo offensive style of Head Coach Andrew Brunette puts a player like Nyquist into the driver's seat to produce and push the pace creatively. Playing with O'Reilly and Forsberg helps lighten the defensive load and lets Nyquist play a 200-foot game.

Brunette also isn't afraid to start his top line in the defensive zone, with the zone start stats being relatively close to even. He responds to the challenge by averaging just shy of a point per game (0.90 points per game)

Do you want to add another layer? Nyquist making a stand and sticking with the top for the season gives the lineup a lot of flexiblity. As injuries result in line shuffles and trades have reorganized the lineup, having a top line intact and operating at an incredible clip has made the changes that need to be made much easier.

Gustav Nyquist has had a season that breathes life into his career and now helps set the Predators up for a playoff run. Barry Trotz has his first big free agency win under his belt.

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