Cleat Geeks

Feeling 22, Saad and Nyquist

Saad&Nyquist3The Columbus Blue Jackets shocked the hockey world on June 30th trading for Chicago Blackhawk’s superstar, Brandon Saad. At 22, Saad is a two-time Stanley Cup champion and was due to become a restricted free agent on the 1st of July. The winger was eventually signed to a 6 year deal on July 3rd, solidifying the Jackets as a legitimate contender in the Metro division.

In the Atlantic, the Red Wings and their future star, Gustav Nyquist, were in the same situation until this past Friday. For the Wings, the Nyquist signing means that they will not have to attend an arbitration hearing at the end of this month, avoiding a potentially awkward situation. Both players have some comparable traits, let’s take a look at them.

Brandon Saad, 22, doesn’t know what golf in April is, playing in every playoff since he made his debut in 2011. He is coming on to a team that knows all too much about making tee times throughout the spring. The Blue Jackets have only made the playoffs twice in their 14 year existence, never making it out of the first round.brandon-saadonaKnee

Saad signed a 6 year 36 million dollar contract on July 3rd, dedicating possibly the most productive years of his career to the Jackets. Last year he scored 31 goals, 32 assists and was a +12 throughout the regular season and the playoffs. Looking at the CBJ roster, one would think that Saad would play LW on the 1st line with Nick Foligno and allstar, Ryan Johanson. Also a force on the power play and penalty kill, I think you will see him play plenty of specialty teams logging upwards of 20 minutes per night.

Brandon Saad is young but he does bring experience, which Jacket’s management hope creates a winning atmosphere. The leadership that can come with that experience cannot be measured by salary, it is only measured by what the player can do to make a team better.

Gustav Nyquist was signed to a 4 year 19 million dollar contract on Friday, and with came a deep sigh of relief from Red Wings fans. For the Red Wings, Nyquist is a cornerstone for the organization which is soon to lose some of it’s best assets. Players like Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are getting old, and there seems to be a change in the guard on the horizon.

NyquistIn typical Red Wings fashion they have developed their players to become monsters in the NHL through the minors. Nyquist is a prime example of that development. Also making his debut in 2011, the ‘’Goose’’ hasn’t played much golf either becoming a valuable RW on a team that has not missed the playoffs in 22 years. Last year he recorded 28 goals, 28 assists, but was a -12.

Locking up Gustav was key for the Wings, and keeping the cast around him has to maintain a top priority. Surrounded by the superstars of past, they are well into their careers with a light at the end of a prestigious tunnel. It will be up to the players like Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Danny Dekeyser, and Justin Abdelkader to continue their winning ways and to form a new era in Detroit hockey. Many changes are in the cards for Detroit in the coming months and years though. A stunning offseason saw Mike Babcock go to Toronto, and a new arena is in the works for the winged wheel. Jeff Blashill has stepped in as head coach, but it won’t be a huge change for the young guys, as he has coached the Grand Rapids Griffins just short of 4 years. Many believe that players like Nyquist will shine under Blashill as they did for him in Grand Rapids.

It will be interesting to see what each of these players do this season, both playing for young teams that are hungry and are favorites in their respective divisions. The Red Wings got quite the deal after holding out, driving Nyquist’s price down could have been attributed to his +/- as he will need to play both sides of ice in order to establish himself as a true elite player. Saad’s versatility drove his price up, but the Blue Jackets wanted him and were ready to match any offer put on the table.

Both of these players are young and there is a lot of hockey left to be played in their careers. Both of them are playing on rising teams that need them to become the cornerstones that will build a franchise, brick by brick. If Saad and Nyquist continue to become the players that they are getting paid to be, they will be in for quite the pay raise after these contracts expire. Only time will tell whom the true winners were, which could become quite the expensive price to pay.

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