San Jose Sharks solidify forward position with Gustav Nyquist trade

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images /

The San Jose Sharks made a solid addition to further bolster the top-nine forward pairings by acquiring Gustav Nyquist from the Detroit Red Wings.

With the trade deadline passed, the San Jose Sharks are in a great position to open the first round of the playoffs at home. The Calgary Flames are ahead of the Sharks in the Pacific Division in what will likely come down to the wire between the two rivals.

Do not expect the Sharks to make an all-out effort to win the division. The importance is having all systems ready and kicked into high gear for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. San Jose cannot afford any slip-ups in the remaining games as the Las Vegas Golden Knights are looking to make one final push to leapfrog the Sharks. As of now, both teams are heading for a first-round matchup.

With arguably one of the best defensive cores in the league and consistent offense, Doug Wilson did not necessarily have to make any upgrades to a team with plenty of depth. Numerous names swirled around the trade rumor mill, and Wilson is known to make splashy acquisitions as seen last year with Evander Kane.

San Jose Sharks
San Jose Sharks /

San Jose Sharks

Players like Wayne Simmonds and Mark Stone were available and ended up going to different destinations. The Sharks already had checked out of the sweepstakes. The additions of Kane and Erik Karlsson depleted high draft picks, and there were few prospects teams would want in return.

But Wilson does typically not stand pat, always looking to upgrade the roster and produce a winning team. In a Stanley Cup or bust campaign, some move was bound to occur before the deadline.

Wilson did not have to search long, acquiring Gustav Nyquist from the Detroit Red Wings, shortly after the Sharks defeated them in the Motor City. Nyquist sat second on the Red Wings this season with 49 points in 62 games. He registered his 16th goal in the game against San Jose late in the first period to give Detroit a 2-1 edge after the opening 20 minutes.

Ten players currently on the Sharks’ roster have 10-plus goals this season and Nyquist makes it eleven once he plays in a Sharks’ sweater. His offensive versatility and speed make him a natural candidate to be placed on the second or third line for coach Peter DeBoer.

Expect Nyquist to play on the line with Joe Thornton as the Sharks now boast one of the top-nine forward pairings for line combinations. With the struggles of Joonas Donskoi, Nyquist may provide more upside on the line with Tomas Hertl and Kane, who are both in a friendly competition to reach the 30-goal mark.

Marcus Sorensen will be likely to move to the fourth line. His game elevated with the help of having Thornton at the center position. Regardless of being demoted, Sorensen is playing well this season and provides a strong offensive presence in a lineup full of scoring depth, an area of concern during playoff runs in the past.

Nyquist’s arrival also means Micheal Haley will not see much game action but provides a physical presence as a fourth line forward. Haley, in his second stint with San Jose, was recently claimed off waivers from the Florida Panthers.

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For the Sharks, trading for Nyquist is a win for Wilson as the 29-year-old had a no-trade clause in his contract with Detroit. He chose to waive it in order to facilitate the trade with the Sharks. Plenty of teams could have used his services, but Nyquist believes the Sharks have the best opportunity to go the distance.

A concern is growing amongst Sharks’ fans about the poor playing of both Martin Jones and Aaron Dell. The Sharks are third in the NHL in goals per game with the only weakness being goals allowed at even strength. Both Jones and Dell currently combine for the second-worst save percentage in the league at goals allowed with five-on-five play.

Back in 2016, the Sharks made a trade to acquire James Reimer to strengthen the goaltending with Jones being the undisputed starter. Rumors of Ryan Miller and Jonathan Bernier surfaced as potential backup insurances behind Jones for the remaining regular season games, but nothing ever came to fruition.

His save percentage and performance in net may be inconsistent, but Jones is currently tied for first in wins this year with 29. Jones will fix the mistakes as will his teammates playing in front of him. Dell is not living up to the steady play he has provided in the past but did an excellent job backstopping the Sharks’ to victory in a recent contest.

In exchange for Nyquist, the Sharks sent a second-round selection in 2019 and a third-round choice in 2020. If San Jose reaches the final or re-signs Nyquist, the 2020 pick will become a second-round pick for Detroit.

Next. Sharks sign familiar face in Michael Haley. dark

Nineteen games remain for the Sharks to solidify first or second place in the Pacific Division. Plenty of firepower is on hand with Nyquist joining the Sharks. Given the level of play so far, San Jose is a legitimate Stanley Cup contender in 2019.