Gustav Nyquist vs. Tyler Toffoli

by Rick Roos

Analyzing the career statistical performance of Gustav Nyquist vs. Tyler Toffoli...and why Toffoli is the better fantasy hockey own.


On the heels of last week’s unprecedented battle between three top rookies, this week marks yet another first - combatants (Gustav Nyquist, Tyler Toffoli) who are both eligible on Yahoo leagues at all three forward positions. Of course, although three position eligibility is very useful it still takes a back seat to overall production, so I’ll determine whether either player shows signs of taking a big leap this season or down the road, and who’s better in terms of cost vs. value. Cage Match starts now!

Career Path and Contract Status

Nyquist, now 26, followed the Babcock era Detroit forward blueprint to a T. Late round draft steal? Check (selected 121st overall in 2008). Not rushed into pro hockey? Check (three years at University of Maine after being drafted). And finally, bouncing between the AHL and NHL? Check (56 AHL/18 NHL games in 2011-12, 58 AHL/22 NHL games in 2012-13, 15 AHL/57 NHL games in 2013-14).

But Nyquist put an end to the AHL/NHL shuttle for good in 2013-14, exploding for 48 points (28 goals) in his 57 games with the Wings. Poolies took eager notice, and although Nyquist easily proved he was more than a one year wonder in 2014-15, he fell short of loftier expectations by scoring just six more points in 25 additional games, leading him to still be picked outside of the top 100 in Yahoo drafts for 2015-16 (101.9 on average, barely up from 104.1 going into last season).

Toffoli was drafted 47th overall in 2010, and is now 24. He earned a permanent spot with LA also in 2013-14; but unlike Nyquist, it wasn’t through his regular season performance, which was a good but not great 29 points in 61 games. Instead, Toffoli’s mark was made in the 2013-14 playoffs, where he posted 14 points in 26 pressure-packed games. And when 2014-15 started, things improved further, as Toffoli stormed out of the gate with 14 points in 11 October games. But in between that and finishing with five points in six April games, Toffoli managed only 30 points in 59 other games, for a pace barely above his 2013-14 output. Nevertheless, Yahoo poolies have been selecting him at 125.8 on average for 2015-16, up from 153.4 in 2014-15.

According to Cap Friendly, Nyquist counts $4.75M per year against the cap through 2018-19, after which he’ll be a UFA, while Toffoli has a cap hit of $3.25M this season and next before becoming an RFA.


Ice Time

In this table and the others below, we’ll look solely at the past two seasons for both players, since data from their brief earlier call-ups won’t help determine present and future production.



Total Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

PP Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

SH Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)


16:39 (G.N.) – 4th

14:35 (T.T.) – 7th

3:00 (G.N.) – 3rd

1:26 (T.T.) – 7th

0:01 (G.N.) – 10th (tied)

0:59 (T.T.) - 6th


16:51 (G.N.) – 5th

12:56 (T.T.) – 10th

3:14 (G.N.) – 2nd

1:34 (T.T.) – 7th

0:00 (G.N.)

0:04 (T.T.) – 13th


I’m not troubled by Nyquist’s Total Ice Time having only held steady. After all, over the past few seasons it had been Mike Babcock’s MO to play Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg a ton, and everyone else a lot less. Of course that could now change, what with a new sheriff in Motown and Datsyuk and Zetterberg a combined 72 years old and not having both played more than 70 games in the same season since 2009-10. If things do change, Nyqvist stands to benefit, having performed well but also as a known commodity to Jeff Blashill from when he coached the team’s AHL affiliate.


The issue is Nyquist likely would see an increase in his 5x5 Ice Time, rather than 5x4, as his PP Ice Time already is among the highest on the team. And Nyquist didn’t exactly light things up at 5x5 last year; in fact, his 5x5 points per 60 minutes rate was a meager 1.44, which was 93rd among the 121 forwards who played 1000+ minutes at 5x5 in 2014-15, behind the likes of Nick Spaling, Mike Santorelli, Reilly Smith, and Carl Hagelin.


Toffoli’s Total Ice Time predictably rose, but only by 1:39, with more than half being undesirable SH Ice Time. Like Nyquist, Toffoli’s PP Ice Time also fell from what it was in 2013-14; however, a drop from an already low 1:34 to 1:26 is more concerning than one from a lofty 3:14 to a still excellent 3:00.


But there are signs of hope for Toffoli as well. Of the six forwards with more Total Ice Time than Toffoli last season, Jarret Stoll (15:29 per game, 1:02 on the PP) and Justin Williams (15:49 per game, 1:37 on the PP) are gone. And although Milan Lucic has come aboard, he’s never been a force on the PP and would stand to negatively impact Dustin Brown’s 5x5 Ice Time more so than Toffoli’s.


When the dust settles on 2015-16, Toffoli should see his Total Ice Time climb above 15:00 and his PP Ice Time increase modestly. Unfortunately, Stoll ate up 1:30 per game of SH Ice Time, so we should look for Toffoli to climb above 1:00 there. But the key will be the likelihood of a jump in even strength Ice Time, as unlike Nyquist Toffoli has shown he can produce at 5x5, where last season he ranked 12th among the 262 forwards who played 750+ minutes at 5x5 with 2.46 goals per 60 minutes of 5x5 Ice Time, which was a full goal more than Nyquist. That’s a significant difference when considering the entire season.


Secondary Categories





(per game)


(per game)

Blocked Shots (per game)


(per game)

PP Points

(per game)


0.31 (G.N.)

0.48 (T.T.)

0.52 (G.N.)

1.13 (T.T.)

0.38 (G.N.)

0.14 (T.T.)

2.38 (G.N.)

2.63 (T.T.)

0.29 (G.N.)

0.06 (T.T.)


0.17 (G.N.)

0.16 (T.T.)

0.31 (G.N.)

0.92 (T.T.)

0.24 (G.N.)

0.13 (T.T.)

2.68 (G.N.)

2.00 (T.T.)

0.15 (G.N.)

0.06 (T.T.)


Both players had nice gains in PIM, Hits and Blocked Shots, although Nyquist is still a drag in the first two and Toffoli remains a category killer in the third. Interestingly, although both saw a small drop in PP Ice Time, Toffoli’s PP output stayed the same while Nyquist’s nearly doubled. We’ll have to check Nyquist’s 5x4 IPP to see if luck played a part in either season.


Perhaps the most telling stat is Shots per game. Nyquist’s fell, which is as troublesome as it is difficult to explain given his comparable Ice Times for each season. One thing that comes to mind is maybe Nyquist having a bit less “fire in his belly” once he knew he was a full-fledged member of the team with a big new deal in his back pocket? It certainly can’t be ruled out.


Meanwhile, Toffoli managed to fire 30% more SOG per game in 2014-15 than 2013-14. But before we get too excited, we have to remember that - unlike Nyquist - Toffoli didn’t emerge until the 2013-14 playoffs. And if we look at just Toffoli’s SOG data for the playoffs, we see he was at 2.50 SOG per game. Thus, Toffoli’s gains in SOG were more modest than they’d appear from just looking at the table above.


One more quick note– neither took even ten faceoffs last season, so although them being eligible at C, LW and RW provides excellent roster flexibility, poolies wouldn’t benefit from inserting either one at LW or RW to get FOW.


Luck-Based Metrics



Personal Shooting Percentage

PDO/SPSV (5x5)

IPP (5x5)

IPP (5x4)

Offensive Zone Starting % (5x5)


13.8% (G.N.)

11.5% (T.T.)

984 (G.N.)

1019 (T.T.)

71.4% (G.N.)

70.6% (T.T.)

67.6% (G.N.)

60.0% (T.T.)

61.1% (G.N.)

54.4% (T.T.)


18.3% (G.N.)

9.7% (T.T.)

1033 (G.N.)

1040 (T.T.)

82.9% (G.N.)

75.9% (T.T.)

60.0% (G.N.)

50.0% (T.T.)

53.2% (G.N.)

58.0% (T.T.)


The data does not paint a great picture for Nyquist. Had his IPPs dropped considerably, it could be easier to explain his considerably lower production. But his combined IPPs in 2014-15 were 139, or only about 2% less than his 142.9 from 2013-14. Meanwhile his Personal Shooting %, although still high, came back down to earth somewhat, as did – predictably – his PDO/SPSV. The net result was Nyquist going from 56 goals scored while he was in the ice in his 57 games in 2013-14, to just 13 more goals in 25 more games in 2014-15. To make matters worse, he regressed despite an offsetting 15% jump in his OZ%.


This isn’t to say Toffoli’s in a great spot either. Although his combined IPPs for 2014-15 still show room for realistic further improvement, he’s unlikely to make sustainable gains in Personal Shooting %, and his OZ% probably is going to stay at or near where it was in 2014-15, if not drop a bit as he becomes more of an all-around player. The good news is unlike Nyquist, Toffoli managed to weather his PDO/SPSV and OZ% drop without his production being negatively affected.


Overall, it looks like Nyquist was quite lucky in 2013-14 and also not unlucky in 2014-15, while Toffoli’s gains in production from 2013-14 to 2014-15 were not accompanied by unsustainable good luck.


Who Wins?


Not only did Nyquist fail to recapture his largely luck-induced magic of 2013-14, but despite some still fairly lucky metrics in 2014-15, the result was 54 points in 82 games. What’s more – for those who think things will improve for Nyquist if we factor in new coach Jeff Blashill leaning on him more than Babcock, keep in mind Nyquist’s points per 60 minutes at 5x5 was very low despite playing with top linemates and his SOG rate actually dropped. All things considered, it’s hard to envision Nyquist posting 60+ points, at least until Datsyuk and Zetterberg are more out of the picture.


Toffoli is no lock to see his production skyrocket either, especially since early results from 2015-16 suggest he still doesn’t seem to be a focal point for the Kings at EV or on the PP. But at least in his case we know that if (when?) he gets more Ice Time he should respond, based on his outstanding points per 60 minutes at 5x5 and not yet having benefitted from unsustainable good luck.


I see Nyquist as a 55-60 point scorer this season and Toffoli tallying 50-55, which gives Toffoli a very narrow edge in points only one year leagues based on cost vs. value. In one year multi-cat leagues, the choice is still Toffoli due to his advantages in PIM, SOG, and Hits, versus Nyquist having only a clear edge in PPP. But I happen to think there are players also eligible on Yahoo at more than one position who are better cost vs. value options than either Nyquist or Toffoli for this season, notably Jonathan Huberdeau (C, LW – average Yahoo draft pick 147.9) and Ryan O’Reilly (C, LW, RW – average Yahoo draft pick 160.0) in points only leagues, and Craig Smith (C, RW – average Yahoo draft pick 155.9) in multi-cats.


For keeper leagues, neither Nyquist nor Toffoli is a must sell. If you have either, it’s probably best to hold since I think they won’t do worse, while at the same time you’d be unlikely to get proper value (factoring in the future) if you traded them now. And both might be good targets to acquire during or after the season if their current owners become frustrated at them not taking the next step fast enough.




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