Role players are generally tough to grade. They aren't going to show up in any of the standard score sheets, the expectations need to be adjusted, and the details used to measure success are difficult to see. Basically, a good role player is like pornography. You can't define it, but you know it when you see it.
Eric Nystrom was supposed to be part of the defensive forward rebuild. Grit, heart, energy. We got the work ethic, not sure what else we got. Snake bitten? Wrong system? Wrong line mates? No chemistry? The answer to all of them is: maybe. Something just didn't seem to click with Nystrom, despite giving his all almost every night.
How does that translate to a grade? Make the jump to find out.
#23 / Left Wing / Minnesota Wild
Feb 14, 1983
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JS- GRADE: C- I can't say I was very impressed with Nystrom, as he took quite a while to get going, as he was as snake-bitten as can be, but you can't say he didn't try. That's what I liked about Nystrom, his Sorry Tom. It didn't bear much fruit, as he got 12 points and was a team-worst -16. We knew not to expect too many points out of him, but we were still promised a young guy with some offensive upside, but we were mostly disappointed. What else is new? Interestingly enough, he was one of only 3 players to play all 82 games, the other two were known Ironmen Greg Zanon and Andrew Brunette, so good on him for that.
Elise- GRADE: C- Didn't have a great year point-wise, but tried really hard and provided some energy and unexpected momentum at times.
Bryan- GRADE: D+ A team worst -16 on the year, and snake bitten in the goal department for the majority of the games played, Nystrom is one step above Kobasew in finding his role on the team. He never suffered from lack of effort, as he was always out there working his butt off, but the effort just didn't seem to translate to results. He got beat too many times, and was simply not physical enough. Coming in, we expected to see him laying guys out, some solid D, and a handful of goals. We didn't really get any of that.
Nathan- GRADE: F Nystrom took forever to finally score at even strength. That waiting and the sarcastic standing ovation spoke volumes about the impact Nystrom had on the Wild this season. A dramatically underachieving performance, Nystrom's 4 goals, 8 assists, team worst -16 and second worst shooting percentage among forwards of 4.8% make him the worst forward on the team. Many thought he would be a solid 4th line performer this season, but honestly, he would've done a better job from the press box. Time for him to go quietly into the night.
Cumulative GPA: 1.125 D
To be clear, no one thought Nystrom was coming in to be a top line wing with scoring touch. After all, the Wild had Antti Miettinen for that, right? Those who knew what to expect wanted to see big hits, battles in the corner, grit, in-your-face hockey. That didn't happen, despite finishing the season with 169 hits.
The disappointment is hard to swallow since the work ethic was there. Probably saved him from more Fs. Sometimes, though, the wheels spin, and there just isn't traction. Great guy, massive dedication, not so much on the results.