DETROIT – Gustav Nyquist knew the day would come and it finally did.
The Wings assigned Nyquist to Grand Rapids to begin the season in order to meet roster limits and free up cap space.
“We like him, he’s a guy we want on the team sooner than later, but unfortunately, we’ve got some difficult cap issues and we’ll start out the way we start out and sort out as we go,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said.
Nyquist signed a two-year deal with an annual cap hit of $950,000 this past offseason to stay with the club.
“Obviously, adversity is not about the decision made, it’s about how you handle it,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Choose your attitude right. Justin Abdelkader had the same thing happen to him, (Jonathan Ericsson) had the same thing happen to him. It’s not the first time that’s happened here. I’m sure he’s very, very disappointed. But I know him good, he’ll go down and be a real good pro and he’ll be prepared when he gets the opportunity.”
With the signing of Daniel Cleary to a one-year deal worth $1.75 million that put the Wings at 26 players under contract for this season, three over the roster limit. And 17 of those are forwards, which they only expect to carry 14.
On Sunday, Darren Helm was placed on long-term injured reserve and Cory Emmerton was placed on waivers, leaving one spot left to be cleared.
Emmerton, who was passed up on the center depth chart by Joakim Andersson, cleared waivers and will also be assigned to the Griffins.
“Cory’s come a long way, but really what got a little bit in his way is Andy got a little bit in his way,” Babcock said. “That’s just the way it is. We felt Dan Cleary was a guy we needed on our team. We’re in a cap situation that isn’t friendly until you get things worked out.”
Holland said that Patrick Eaves (sprained MCL and ankle), Jordin Tootoo (shoulder) and Jonas Gustavsson (groin) will all begin the season on injured reserve.
“They all go on IR retroactive to when they’re hurt, so we could take them off Wednesday morning if we want,” Holland said.
Nyquist is the only forward that doesn’t have to clear waivers and be exposed for other teams to scoop up before being sent down to the minors.
He is however two NHL games played away from losing his waiver-exempt status.
Defenseman Danny DeKeyser also could be sent down without having to go through waivers, but that would leave Detroit with just six defensemen.
Despite not playing an entire season with the Griffins last year, Nyquist led them with 58 points in 60 games.
Nyquist, who had three goals and three assists in 22 regular season games a year ago, was part of a pretty formidable third line late in the season with Andersson and Damien Brunner. He had two goals and three assists in 14 postseason games.