How Gustav Nyquist Is Integrating Smoothly Into Sharks Lineup So Far

SAN JOSE -- When the Sharks acquired winger Gustav Nyquist from the Detroit Red Wings ahead of the NHL trade deadline, San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said he spoke with Jeff Blashill, his counterpart in the Motor City. 

Nyquist joined the Sharks with 19 games remaining in the regular season, and San Jose chasing the streaking Calgary Flames for home-ice advantage in the Western Conference. The Swedish forward didn't have much, if any, lead time to integrate with his new team before his first game, and DeBoer wanted to "get ahead of that curve."

"That just saves you time in a situation where we don't have a lot of [it]," DeBoer said Thursday of his chat with Blashill. "That's the tough part about bringing in guys at the deadline."

Among other things, DeBoer wanted to learn about what kind of coaching Nyquist would best respond to, and what Blashill noticed in the 28-year-old's game when he was thriving compared to when he was struggling. Still, DeBoer admitted he didn't expect too many surprises. 

"It was an invaluable conversation we had," DeBoer said, "and thankfully, I think Gus is a pretty low-maintenance guy. … There wasn't a lot there that I didn't know, but definitely some helpful tips on some of the things I should be looking for."

Low-maintenance would largely describe Nyquist's integration into the Sharks' lineup so far. 

Through two games, San Jose has controlled 61.11 percent of the 5-on-5 shot attempts and 56.67 percent of the scoring chances with the Swede on the ice, according to Natural Stat Trick. In Saturday's 4-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche, Nyquist led all Sharks skaters with five shots on net (all at even strength), and tied for second with three high-danger chances. 

Yet, there were still some growing pains, which is to be expected after Nyquist spent nearly eight years in the same place. On Saturday, Nyquist was on the ice for two goals against, and more Colorado scoring chances (six) than all but two Sharks forwards. 

He noted after his first practice in San Jose that learning the team's systems would take some time. But, he sounded confident he'd be able to learn on the fly. 

"I'm just trying to get to know everyone here right now -- and enjoying it," Nyquist said at the time. "Coming here to a very, very good team is exciting as a hockey player. [In the] first game, you could feel it right away that this is a really good team."

Nyquist has had one source of steadiness so far in San Jose: Joe Thornton as a linemate.

In two games, Nyquist has played a hair over five minutes without Thornton at even strength, and just under four-and-half in 5-on-5 situations. Together, they've posted a 60 percent corsi-for percentage.

Nyquist spent time on Thornton's left wing in Tuesday's loss to the Boston Bruins, and then played on his right side Saturday. That's where Nyquist spent most of his time in Detroit, but he said playing with the Sharks' all-time leader in assists makes any adjustment easier. 

"It's fun," Nyquist said. "He's a great player, extremely smart. [I've] just gotta be open, and he'll find me."

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The winger will have plenty of time to get used to playing with Thornton, as well as his new home. 11 of San Jose's final 17 games are at SAP Center, and the Sharks won't be on the road for more than two games at a time for the remainder of the season. 

DeBoer said he was looking forward to the Sharks having some extended time at home before the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin in early April. He thought the team could use the month at home for additional practices, and Nyquist to "find a place to live and get settled" off of the ice.

If his first two games are any indication, though, Nyquist won't need that long to get settled on it.

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