DETROIT – It may have taken a bit longer than expected, but the excitement was still the same for Gustav Nyquist.
Nyquist, who was the last restricted free agent the Wings had to sign, received a two-year deal with an annual cap hit of $950,000.
“I’m real excited to know that I’ll be a part of the organization for two more years,” Nyquist said in a phone interview Tuesday. “It’s such a great organization to be a part of. I’ve learned so much from all the guys there over the last couple of years so it’s a great feeling for sure.”
Nyquist, 23, will earn $850,000 next season and $1,050,000 in the final year of the deal.
“It feels great,” Nyquist said. “I’m real happy to be here for two more years. The negotiations went well and it all worked out.”
Nyquist will still be a restricted free agent when the deal expires.
Nyquist played in 22 games during the regular season last year and had three goals and three assists. He played in all 14 of the Wings’ playoff games where he contributed two goals and three assists.
He really blossomed playing on the third line along with Joakim Andersson and Damien Brunner.
“We had a lot of young guys last year that developed throughout the year and it was a real good learning experience for us all,” Nyquist said. “For us to be around the guys, especially in the playoffs, they all know what it takes to win. You really learned a lot. It’s a great experience for us young guys to be able to learn through the experience of playing in it. A lot of these guys have been through it all and won the Stanley Cup.”
Andersson, who was also a restricted free agent, signed a two-year deal last month, while Brunner was not re-signed.
“It was a real exciting year last year being able to play with Brunner and Andersson there on the third line and I think that went well,” Nyquist said. “We have added some great additions to our team (this offseason). The whole thing is looking great and it’s real exciting that we got (Daniel) Alfredsson and (Stephen) Weiss as well.”
Nyquist is still in Sweden and attended the Olympic team camp.
“The Olympics would be something special, but I’m real excited to get the season started,” Nyquist said. “It would be an unbelievable experience to be a part of an Olympics. We have such a great team in Sweden, so it all depends on how you start the season, obviously. It’s going to be tough, but I’m going to try to make the team, for sure.”
With Nyquist signed it puts the Wings two players over the 23-man roster limit and close to $4 million over the salary cap. Teams can go 10-percent over the salary cap during the offseason.
The Wings do have a bit of flexibility with this year’s cap if they choose to apply nearly $3 million in potential bonuses to next season’s number since it’s expected to rise.
There is some concern about the health of Darren Helm, who was limited to playing just one game last season due to a slightly torn disc in his back.
If Helm is unable to start the season the Wings could place him on long-term injured reserve and thus create a roster spot there. It would also allow his $1.75 in salary to not count against the salary cap.
If he’s healthy the list of players that could be trimmed from the roster via trades or being waived include Jordin Tootoo, Mikael Samuelsson and Patrick Eaves.
Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement teams receive only limited cap relief ($100,000 for players who signed at age 35 or over and a maximum of $925,000 for others) for players who clear waivers.
Eaves’ game is comparable to that of Drew Miller.
Cory Emmerton appears safe on the roster if Helm is unable to regain his pre-injury form to center the Wings’ third line.
If they’re unable to trim or trade players to get down to 23, the Wings could send Nyquist and defenseman Danny DeKeyser to Grand Rapids since they both are exempt from waivers.
Rosters are due two days before the start of the regular season on Oct. 2.