Two Metropolitan Division foes might want to add a player like Nyquist to their lineups, for different reasons. I consider both of them dark horses here because, while one of them is a legit Cup contender, they have some depth up front already. The other might consider their window just opening, and may not want to offload futures for a run just yet.
Division leading Carolina has one of the stingiest defenses in the entire league, and added some scoring last summer in acquiring both Brent Burns and Max Pacioretty. But with the latter missing most of the season so far and all of the depth they have; their offense ranks just 15th at the midway mark of the season.
A player like Nyquist could help them find more goals, while also fitting into head coach Rod Brind’Amour’s demanding two-way style. As mentioned at the top of the article, past tendencies play into this a little bit, and remember: it was the Canes who took Max Domi from the Blue Jackets this time last year.
Even with such retention, the Canes would likely have to offload another piece to make this cap hit work. But, they have plenty of assets to trade in both prospects and future draft picks. It’s certainly possible that they would prefer to move a prospect in lieu of a draft pick here as well. Again, past tendencies.
New Jersey Devils
Sitting just behind the Canes in the Metropolitan are the Devils, who finally turned the corner this season after a long rebuilding process. They have a young roster, led by two superstar centers (Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier), and some really nice pieces on the wings.
If they decide to make a push this season, Nyquist could bring a veteran presence to this young group, which might be enough to thrust them into contention. Like the other teams on this list, the Cap situation here makes things tough, but not impossible. Coming off of that long rebuild, the Devils have most of their draft picks over the next three seasons – as well as some tantilizing prospects.
Andreas Johnsson buried in the AHL, is costing the Devils $2.275m against the cap as a penalty. In a deal like this, they offload that burden and get an NHL player who can help them in return. It won’t come cheap – a 2nd round pick at this summer’s draft is very valuable – but, it might make sense for them if they want to make a push this year.
It’s entirely possible that none of these teams would even call on Nyquist, but it’s still fun to debate what might happen over the next six weeks. It is likely however that there will be many suitors for Nyquist, as he will be one of the premier rentals available at this year’s deadline if teams are looking for some secondary scoring, leadership, or two-way play. He brings all of that.
For the Jackets, the cap situation around the league might inhibit their ability to get a huge return like they did, say, in the Nick Foligno or David Savard trades – but the number of teams who feel they have a shot at the Cup this year will certainly help. I do fully expect Nyquist to net a larger return than Max Domi last year … the only question is, what will it take to get it done?