Sharks free-agency decisions: Will winger Gustav Nyquist stay or go?

Chelena Goldman
NBC Sports BayArea
Here's why pending free agent Gustav Nyquist could stay in San Jose, and why he could be playing somewhere else next season.

Sharks free-agency decisions: Will winger Gustav Nyquist stay or go?

Here's why pending free agent Gustav Nyquist could stay in San Jose, and why he could be playing somewhere else next season.

Sharks free-agency decisions: Will winger Gustav Nyquist stay or go? originally appeared on nbcsportsbayarea.com

There are firsts in every NHL career.

For winger Gustav Nyquist, that meant waiving his no-trade clause with the Detroit Red Wings and joining the Sharks ahead of February's trade deadline -- the first time he had ever been traded.

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Now, just a couple months later, the 29-year-old forward is set to become an unrestricted free agent -- another first in his hockey career -- and possibly could be on the move yet again.

Here's a look at why Nyquist could stay, and why he could be headed to another team before the summer is over.

Why he could stay

Nyquist told reporters at the Sharks' final media availability of the season last month that he was open to staying in San Jose. At the time, there had been no contracts talks -- a thread that appears common among the Sharks long list of pending free agents. 

It's worth noting that was before Nyquist's good friend Erik Karlsson re-signed in San Jose earlier this month. Nevertheless, Nyquist had nothing but good things to say about the Sharks' organization.

"I love it here. I had a great time here," he said on May 23. "I had a great experience, a great three months. It's nothing I've thought about. it's still a month away. I know I don't have a contract for next year yet, but we'll see what happens."

The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun reported Wednesday that San Jose "hasn't closed the door bringing [Nyquist] back," despite having just over $14.8 million in salary-cap space with only seven forwards under contract.

Although it took Nyquist a bit of time to find where he fit on his new team, he found a home on Logan Couture's wing in the Stanley Cup playoffs. In all, Nyquist scored 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) in 39 regular-season and playoff games. 

Should he stay, Nyquist can help round out the Sharks' forward depth. Being more familiar with the team at this point, the Swedish winger could even have a bigger impact for the Sharks next season. 

Why he could go

About that lack of cap space. The Sharks are rumored to be trying to move players just days ahead of the beginning of free agency in an effort to free up some breathing room, meaning their roster could look drastically different next season whether or not they can keep unrestricted free agents like Nyquist and Joe Pavelski.

In Nyquist's case, the Sharks may not be able to give him a contract that matches his needs. An eight-year veteran with a growing family -- Nyquist and his wife welcomed a baby girl into the world during the Sharks' 20-game playoff run -- likely wants a long-term deal. Nyquist, who becomes a free agent with the expiration of a four-year contract he signed in Detroit, probably is looking for a five- or six-year contract. 

San Jose, at least at this moment, hasn't struck a deal with captain Joe Pavelski. Agreeing to a term long enough for Nyquist might not be in the cards, either. 

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The verdict

As much as Nyquist genuinely seems like he wants to stay in San Jose, it's possible the Sharks have trouble keeping him.

With players currently meeting teams ahead of the free agent market opening up, Nyquist could potentially meet with a team he likes that could later present him with a deal that suits him. LeBrun reported Wednesday that Detroit and the Edmonton Oilers are interested.

That isn't to say the door has completely closed on Nyquist staying in San Jose. However, considering the Sharks' lack of wiggle room under the cap, that will be difficult. 

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