Gustav Nyquist Fitting in as Planned with the Blue Jackets

Gustav Nyquist has been a great signing for the Columbus Blue Jackets so far. His hat trick against the Pittsburgh Penguins was his best game on the scoresheet and it propelled the Blue Jackets to victory on Friday night. Even though the first goal was redirected off of his back and the last was an empty netter, it was a good showing for Nyquist.

When he signed with the Blue Jackets, the thought was that it was a solid acquisition and he’d fit in perfectly with the team. He’s been just that other than a few games when he was still getting acquainted with the team. In addition to his elevated play of late, he’s been someone that the young guys are able to work with and learn from.

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This is something the Blue Jackets needed considering the talent lost in the offseason. The roster is very young – 12 players age 25 or younger were on the ice against the Penguins. Nyquist isn’t lighting the world on fire with his play this season but the Blue Jackets needed someone like him.

Even without thinking about what the Blue Jackets lost, they need Nyquist because other veterans have been struggling this season. Two players in particular that have had down seasons are Josh Anderson and Cam Atkinson. Anderson and Atkinson still need to step up, but they should be thankful that Nyquist is around to carry some of the load.

Stepping up While Others Are Down

He has been playing particularly well of late and he’s now tied for the team lead in points at 18 with Pierre-Luc Dubois. With five points in his last six games, Nyquist is becoming a player that other teams need to focus on. He has the second-most goals for the Blue Jackets with eight and the second-most assists with 11.

Gustav Nyquist Columbus Blue Jackets
Gustav Nyquist, Columbus Blue Jackets (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This is huge with Anderson sitting at three points this season and Atkinson at 14 points and only 4 goals. Nyquist has also been a big help on the power play this season and one of his goals against the Penguins was on the man advantage. He has five power-play points this season, with two goals and three assists.

The best left winger for the Blue Jackets this season has easily been Nyquist. Sonny Milano has his moments of greatness but isn’t nearly consistent enough to be a force like Nyquist. Alexandre Texier and Eric Robinson have potential but don’t have much NHL experience and it’s been an adjustment for them.

The Nyquist signing is working out about as well as it could have so far and he’s on pace to set a career-high in points. His current career high is 54 points and he’s on pace for 59 this season. If he does continue on his current pace, it’ll be significant for the Blue Jackets since they needed someone to step up as a winger this season.

Filling in the Gap Left by Free Agency

Last season is over with, but Nyquist coming in and signing a multi-year deal was a good thing for the Blue Jackets in many ways. The hard truth is that it was big for them to land a free agent who had other options. It’ll be important for the team to leave the past behind and move forward, not that they haven’t been doing so, but with the early struggles, it wouldn’t help to latch on.

Gustav Nyquist Red Wings
Gustav Nyquist, formerly of the Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Losing Artemi Panarin was a big deal, however, adding Nyquist does help even though it isn’t an equal replacement. It helps the team on the ice but was also re-assuring that Columbus wasn’t an afterthought to everyone else in the league. Nyquist won’t play like Panarin and be one of the best in the game, but he’s proven to come in and be a Columbus guy, which was crucial.

Moving forward, Nyquist will need to keep up his production and be a leader on the ice like he has been. He’s a well-respected player in the NHL, and the young guys on the Blue Jackets should be looking up to him if they want to make it as consistent players themselves. He isn’t a perfect player, but he fits into the Blue Jackets incredibly well in every way, on and off the ice.