After the Sharks traded Chris Tierney to the Ottawa Senators as part of the Erik Karlsson deal, many wondered how the team could roll four lines every night.
Five months later, wonder no more.
San Jose got a boost earlier in the season when Joe Thornton became the third-line center and developed chemistry with speedy Swedish winger Marcus Sorensen. The team received further assistance when Tomas Hertl seamlessly moved to the pivot with Joonas Donskoi and Evander Kane on his wings.
But on some nights -- heck, even nights when San Jose won games -- many asked if there was an available piece to add and give the offense even more depth. Gustav Nyquist, acquired Sunday night in a trade with the Detroit Red Wings, could be that piece.
Sharks fans got a good look at the 29-year-old winger earlier Sunday without even realizing it, as Team Teal played the Red Wings and Nyquist scored Detroit's second goal of the day. Within a matter of seconds, he helped keep the puck in Detroit’s offensive zone, and he still had time to post up right in front of San Jose netminder Aaron Dell and punch in a rebound goal.
Having another player with such net-front presence should be a nice addition to the Sharks' arsenal, which has delivered the second-most goals in the NHL with 228.
Nyquist also gives Sharks coach Peter DeBoer some options as he tries to put together the best line combinations. In a statement following the trade, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson called the Swedish forward “versatile,” and he wasn’t kidding.
San Jose Sharks
Nyquist skated on Detroit’s top line Sunday, but his skill means he can be put anywhere in the lineup. He could get a look on Thornton's wing on the third line, where he would add a ton of speed, but he also might hop alongside Hertl if that line is having trouble finding jump that evening. He even could help give the fourth line that oomph it has lacked for stretches of the season.
DeBoer might do a little extra line-shuffling at first to find the best fit while likely also trying not to disrupt his successful combos. There’s no denying, however, that his options just grew as his Sharks chase the Calgary Flames in the Pacific Division.
No matter where Nyquist fills in, his scoring prowess speaks for itself. With 49 points (16 goals, 33 assists) in 62 games, he becomes the ninth Shark with 40-plus points this season. If San Jose already didn’t intimidate opponents, Nyquist could change that.
The Sharks were a deep team ahead of Monday's NHL trade deadline. But Nyquist's addition means that depth just went to another level.