Gustav Nyquist agreed to terms on a two-year, entry-level contract with the Detroit Red Wings and will forgo his senior year at the University of Maine.
Nyquist, a right wing from Malmo, Sweden, agreed to the deal with Detroit late Thursday. He will join the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit’s AHL affiliate, on an amateur tryout agreement (ATO).
Nyquist was en route to Texas on Friday to join the Griffins for games Friday night and Saturday against the Texas Stars. He could not be reached for comment.
“He’s ready,” Maine Coach Tim Whitehead said. “I told Gustav before the season that if everything went as I thought it would, he’d be ready to sign and we supported that.
“If for some reason he wanted to stay, we’d love to have him.”
Nyquist leaves Maine as one of the program’s most prolific players. Drafted by the Red Wings in 2008, Nyquist is an All-American and a two-time finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the top Division I college hockey player. He is a two-time first team all-Hockey East selection.
Nyquist led the nation in scoring for the 2009-10 season and was Maine’s leading scorer this season with 18 goals and 33 assists in 36 games. He also was the second-leading scorer in Hockey East this season.
In three seasons with the Black Bears, Nyquist had 50 goals and 94 assists in 113 games, and he was the first player since Steve Kariya (1996-1999) to lead the Black Bears in scoring for three consecutive seasons.
“Being a Hobey Baker finalist for two years in a row, the question was, how much more can he do?” Red Wings Assistant General Manager Jim Nill said. “Players almost get too confident and two years in a row as a Hobey Baker finalist, it shows us that he’s an elite college player.”
Nyquist stood out at the college level for more than just his numbers. He also was lauded for his exceptional vision on the ice and his playmaking abilities.
“You don’t really replace a player like Gustav right away,” Whitehead said. “It takes a group effort to fill the various roles he plays, but I think he’s one of a kind.”
Nill said that because of Nyquist’s success at the college level, the Red Wings project him to be a top-six forward within the organization.
“Any time you’re a standout in any league, you project them as strong players at the next level,” Nill said.
However, Nill put no definite timeline on Nyquist’s progression within the Red Wings’ organization.
“When he lands in Detroit, we don’t know,” Nill said. “He could be in Grand Rapids for a half a year or he could be a year away from being in Detroit.
“But we project him as a top-six forward. If he’s not a top-six forward in Grand Rapids, he can’t be one in Detroit.”
Nyquist is the fourth Maine player from this year’s team to turn pro, joining Tanner House (Edmonton/Oklahoma City of the AHL), Josh Van Dyk (Calgary/Abbotsford on an ATO) and Mike Banwell (New Jersey/Albany on an ATO).
“There’s no doubt in my mind he’s ready for the next step and the next challenge,” Whitehead said of Nyquist. “He’s become a complete player at Maine and he’s ready to play at the AHL and even at the NHL level.”
Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be contacted at 791-6415 or at: [email protected]