Nystrom Finds Redemption
Coming into the 2011-12 season, then-Minnesota Wild forward Eric Nystrom had plenty to prove. The son of four-time Stanley Cup-winning Bobby Nystrom, "Mr. Islander" himself, had underachieved in his career, and had never found a fit with any of his linemates. He found himself off to an aggressive start in the preseason—however, that aggression put him into hot water.
In a preseason game against the Edmonton Oilers, the puck was cleared down the ice by Clayton Stoner, and Nystrom carelessly tangled up with Edmonton's rookie defenseman Taylor Fedun, subsequently breaking Fedun's femur, and putting his hockey career in jeopardy. Nystrom apologized repeatedly for the hit, had a ten minute closed-door meeting with him after the game. He even visited him in a local hospital.
"I feel awful," Nystrom said after the game. "[Fedun] was really hurt and I had obviously no intention of ever, ever doing anything like that."
"No matter how many times I say sorry, he'll still be in the spot that he is," he continued. "It's just a tough thing to be a part of."
Nystrom found himself in a black hole. The peanut gallery of Twitter lambasted the 28-year-old for the hit. He continued to express his sorrow over the hit to the haters, but simply could not shake them. His bad luck continued when he broke his finger in a fight later that preseason.The Wild saw no use for him, and placed him on waivers.
That's where fate stepped in, and where it gets a little complicated.
The New York Rangers recalled Sean Avery from the Connecticut Whale (AHL), relieving the cap pressure that the Stars had to pay him when they had signed him to a 4-year, $15.5 million contract and waived him thereafter. That put the Stars below the salary cap floor. GM Joe Nieuwendyk bit the bullet and picked up Nystrom on waivers. This barely put the Stars above the floor.
Nystrom had never eclipsed 20 points in any of his five seasons in the NHL with Calgary and Minnesota. Right now, in 30 games, Nystrom has 12 goals and 2 assists with the Stars. Nystrom's hot shooting stick is shooting at 22.6%. He just might become a 20-goal scorer for Dallas this season.
He has played a gritty, power forward game, and his new goal scoring touch has been a real find for the Stars. He is tied with fellow-forward Loui Eriksson for second in goal scoring on the Stars. It will be interesting to see how Nystrom finishes the season as a result of this offensive explosion.
In any case, Eric Nystrom has found redemption in Big D, finding himself in an important role for the first time in his career.