Wings lockup Nyquist, a player they’re “building around”, for four years at $19 million

DETROIT >> Gustav Nyquist is one of the players the Detroit Red Wings are building around.

On Friday, the restricted free agent forward cashed in because of that.

Nyquist avoided going to salary arbitration after agreeing to a four-year deal worth $19 million.

“He’s really coming into the prime of his career,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “I don’t even know if he’s in his prime yet.

“The next four years will be important years in Gustav Nyquist’s career,” Holland added. “He’s homegrown, developed by us, he’s a good person, he wants to be a Red Wing, wants to be in Detroit.”

The four-year deal, which buys two years of Nyquist’s unrestricted free agency, has an average salary-cap hit at $4.75 million. He will earn $4 million this season, $4.25 million in 2016-17, $5.25 million in 2017-18 and $5.5 million in 2018-19.

In the final two years of the deal, Nyquist, who turns 26 on Sept. 1, has a full no-trade clause.

Nyquist, who was selected by the Wings with the last pick in the fourth round (121st overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, is now the third-highest paid forward on the team behind Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

Nyquist burst onto the scene during the 2013-14 season.

After beginning the year in Grand Rapids because he didn’t have to clear waivers in order to be assigned there, Nyquist was recalled and promptly scored two goals in his first game.

He finished with 28 goals, six of which came on the power play, and 20 assists. He also was a plus-16.

Last season, in 82 games, Nyquist had 27 goals, 27 assists and was a minus-11. Fourteen of his goals were on the power play.

“It’s a league with I think less than 20 players scored 30 goals,” Holland said. “Gus had 28 goals in 57 games two years ago. To get 28 goals once is a nice accomplishment. To do it in back to back years in this league is tremendous.”

Just 15 players reached the 30-goal mark a year ago.

“When I look at what Gus has produced the last two years, you add in his age, and you look around the league, how hard it is to score,” Holland said. “In college and the American League he’s produced offense. We went back and forth and found a solution that got us two years of his unrestricted free agency. It’s a contract that’s fair for the player and the club.”

But like many of the younger Wings, Nyquist has struggled in the postseason.

“As I reflect back through the years on some of our players, it took a while to translate that regular season success into the playoffs,” Holland said. “Last year we had seven-game series, the year before five games, it’s hard to evaluate players on five games and seven games, that’s why you play an 82-game schedule. It gives players and opportunity to show what they can do. You get evaluated on a short body of work (in the playoffs). You need more games to get comfortable to do what you do.”

Nyquist has three goals, four assists and a plus-1 in 30 playoff games.

Pavel Datsyuk also struggled early in his career in the postseason, registering just three goals in his first 42 playoff games.

“Two years ago when we had a lot of people injured he was a key in helping us get into the playoffs,” Holland said. “He’s been through some playoff runs. He’s continued to develop as a player.”

Detroit has 23 players signed, 14 of which are forwards, at just over $71 million.

Once the Wings sign restricted free agent forwards Tomas Jurco and Teemu Pulkkinen they’ll just be over the $71.4 million salary cap.

Teams can be 10-percent over the salary cap until the day before the season begins, which will give the Wings enough time to decide if Pavel Datsyuk (ankle surgery) and Johan Franzen (concussion) will be able to start the season or head to injured reserve.

Detroit could also free up cap space via a trade or sending a player to Grand Rapids.

“We’ve got to get to camp, let it play itself out and pick a team,” Holland said. “With the additions we made on July 1, we’re a little deeper than last year. We’re hoping for a competitive training camp.”

On the first day of free agency, the Wings added defenseman Mike Green and forward Brad Richards.

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