“He plays high energy and high octane. He gets in your face and he finishes his checks,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “He gives us some speed, some strength on the wing, another penalty killer. He’s a guy that can play center, so he has versatility. He’s been a welcome addition for us.”
Nystrom has played six games for the Stars, picking up one goal and averaging 11:33 of ice time. He started off on the Stars’ fourth line and now he’s playing left wing on the third line with center Vernon Fiddler and right wing Radek Dvorak.
“It’s been a good adjustment,” Nystrom said. “When I got here, the coaching staff made sure that I watched a lot of video and we went over the way the team plays and I just try to apply that on the ice. Playing with Fidds and Devo the past few games has been a real easy transition. We’re all on the same page and they’re easy guys to read off of, and this team is doing well because we’re all on the same page, so it’s been easy to step in.”
That third line has produced two goals over the last two games. There was Nystrom’s goal, set up by Fiddler, last Thursday that tied the game 3-3 before the Stars eventually fell 5-3 to Los Angeles. And then Saturday, as Nystrom was driving the net, Fiddler’s centering pass bounced off traffic and into the net, giving the Stars a 2-1 lead over New Jersey. That goal held up as the game-winner in a 3-1 victory.
“I think we’re getting better and better every game,” Fiddler said. “I still don’t think we’ve played our best, but we’re a line that has to create more than we give up. We still got a little ways to go, but I think we’re getting better, we’re getting zonetime, getting a little more action in their end, and that’s what we have to do.”
Fiddler said Nystrom has been a good fit on the line, especially since he is a left shot.
“(Adam) Burish was on our line and he’s a right shot trying to play the left wing, it’s not the easiest thing to do,” Fiddler said. “He’s the same kind of player as us, but he was not playing his position, so bringing in a left-handed shot, it gives us a little more flow coming out of the zone. Nystrom’s a lot like me and Dvorak, he just plays hard, he tries to keep it simple, he’s reliable and not a liability out there. It’s been nice to play with him, he’s good in the zone and he makes some nice plays along the wall. It’s been good.”
The Stars acquired Nystrom from Minnesota on October 12 after they fell below the lower limit of the salary cap due to the New York Rangers sending Sean Avery to the AHL. Half of Avery’s $3.875 million cap hit was still on the Stars’ books.
“Obviously, coming from the situation I was in, I was so happy to get an opportunity and a new breath of fresh air on another team. I was excited,” Nystrom said. “In Minnesota they had a different plan, they were going with younger guys and it looked like they were trying to just shed some salary and I come to a team that needed it. I’ve never doubted the way I can play. I’ve been given an opportunity early here and it’s gone well, but it’s just been a few games, so I want to keep doing the right things and helping the team.”
In an interesting twist, the Rangers reversed course on Avery this week and brought him back to New York. It has no impact on Nystrom now. It was the Rangers’ decision on Avery a few weeks back that opened the door to a new opportunity for Nystrom, and he is relishing it.
“I’m so happy to be here,” said Nystrom. “I feel like I have a second chance and I learned a lot from this experience and I’m just trying to get better every single day.”