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Eric Thore Nystrom (born February 14, 1983) is an American professional ice hockey left winger for the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was a first round selection of the Calgary Flames, taken 10th overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, and made his NHL debut with Calgary in 2005. Nystrom has also played for the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars. He played four seasons of college hockey with the Michigan Wolverines before he turned professional. On four occasions, Nystrom has played with the United States national team, most recently at the 2010 World Championship. He is the son of former NHL player Bob Nystrom.
Nystrom was born and raised in Syosset, New York, where his father, Bob, was an NHL player for the New York Islanders. Bob, who was himself born in Sweden but grew up in Hinton, Alberta, won four consecutive Stanley Cups between 1980 and 1983. Bob coached his son during his formative years in hockey. Nystrom is Jewish as is his mother, and had a Bar Mitzvah. He attended high school at Portledge School in Locust Valley, New York. He has an older sister, Marissa.
Nystrom grew up playing several sports, including soccer and baseball, and only seriously considered a hockey career in his mid-teens. While Eric was regarded as an NHL prospect himself, his father encouraged him to seek an education first, which the younger Nystrom did upon earning a scholarship to play for the University of Michigan Wolverines in 2000. He spent four years at Michigan where he earned a degree in liberal arts.
Junior and college
Nystrom established a hard-working style similar to his father's, which helped earn him an invite to play with the US National Development Program (USDP). He played 55 games for USDP in the North American Hockey League in 1999–2000, scoring seven goals and 23 points. He split the 2000–01 season with the national under-18 program and the junior team in the United States Hockey League, also representing the United States at the 2001 IIHF World U18 Championships. He later represented the United States at the 2002 and 2003 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.
He moved onto the University of Michigan, earning a place on the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) All-Rookie team in 2002 after scoring 18 goals and 31 points. On the strength of that season, the Calgary Flames selected him with their first pick, 10th overall, at the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. Before turning professional, Nystrom completed his final three seasons of college eligibility, finishing with 111 points in 160 career games, and serving as the Wolverines' captain in his senior year of 2004–05.
Upon turning professional in 2005, Nystrom was assigned to the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights of the American Hockey League (AHL). He was recalled by the Flames at the start of the 2005–06 season and made his NHL debut against the Colorado Avalanche on October 10, 2005. He played two games with the Flames before being returned to the AHL to complete the season. Nystrom missed most of the 2006–07 after suffering a tear in his right shoulder during a pre-season game. He attempted to rehab the injury and then play, before opting on surgery. The injury limited Nystrom to just 12 regular season games for Omaha, but he returned in time to play five playoff games for the Knights.
Nystrom split the 2007–08 season between the Calgary and the Quad City Flames. He appeared in 44 regular season games for Calgary, and scored his first NHL goal on October 30, 2007, against the Nashville Predators. He scored a career-high four points, two goals and two assists, in the Flames final game of the regular season, a 7–1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Following the season, he signed a two-year contract extension with the Flames.
Nystrom played his first full NHL season with the Flames in 2008–09, playing in 76 games and scoring five goals, three of them game-winning. He added a fourth game-winning goal in the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Chicago Blackhawks. He more than doubled his career high in 2009–10, scoring 11 goals despite struggling through a groin injury for a large part of the season. He was invited to play with the American team at the 2010 IIHF World Championships.
Minnesota and Dallas
Nystrom chose to leave Calgary as a free agent, signing a three-year, $4.2 million contract with the Minnesota Wild on July 1, 2010. He scored four goals and eight assists in his first season with the Wild, a season which Nystrom admitted was not good, and "snowballed negatively" for him. The 2011–12 season posed early challenges for Nystrom. In a pre-season game against the Edmonton Oilers, his attempt to avoid an icing call resulted in his stick getting caught up in the skates of Edmonton's Taylor Fedun, sending the latter player crashing into the boards at high speed. Fedun suffered a broken leg and the play renewed calls for the NHL to move to no-touch icing to avoid similar incidents in the future. He was waived by Minnesota prior to the season's start, but went unclaimed by any other team and was demoted to the AHL's Houston Aeros, with whom he appeared in one game.
On October 12, 2011, the Wild dealt him to the Dallas Stars. Minnesota had to place him through re-entry waivers first, and while Dallas could have claimed him at that point and been responsible for only half of his $1.4 million salary, they took on his full salary via trade so as to meet the league's minimum payroll rules. Dallas general manager Joe Nieuwendyk praised Nystrom as being an effective penalty killer who would add depth to his team. Though he was anticipated to play in a defensive checking role, Nystrom added an offensive touch for Dallas, scoring 10 goals in his first 21 games with the team. His 12th goal of the season set a new career high, and he finished the year with 16.
Due to the 2012–13 NHL lockout, Nystrom signed with Stavanger Oilers late November and made his debut in the Norwegian GET-ligaen in a match against Vålerenga on December 20. Nystrom had four goals and three assists in his first game. He played only six games with the team, but recorded 14 points. Returning to the NHL once the lockout was resolved, Nystrom scored 11 points in 48 games with Dallas.
Nystrom left the Stars as a free agent following the 2012–13 NHL season and signed a four-year deal with the Nashville Predators worth $10 million. He recorded the first hat trick of his NHL career on January 24, 2014, against the Calgary Flames and finished with a franchise record four goals. The Predators lost the game, however, 5–4 in a shootout.
Off the ice
Nystrom has frequently involved himself with charitable endeavors throughout his career. While with Quad City, he performed an on-ice striptease that mimicked the one performed by the character Ned Braden in the movie Slap Shot as part of a team jersey auction. The event raised $30,000. He served as a player ambassador for the Reading... Give it a Shot! program as a member of the Flames and visited local schools as part of the team's campaign to increase literacy among students. Nystrom is active with Garth Brooks' Teammates for Kids Foundation.
Regular season and playoffs
|1999–00||U.S. Junior National Team||NAHL||55||7||16||23||57||—||—||—||—||—|
|2000–01||U.S. Junior National Team||USDP||23||5||5||10||50||—||—||—||—||—|
|2001–02||University of Michigan Wolverines||CCHA||39||18||12||30||36||—||—||—||—||—|
|2002–03||University of Michigan Wolverines||CCHA||39||15||11||26||24||—||—||—||—||—|
|2003–04||University of Michigan Wolverines||CCHA||43||10||12||22||50||—||—||—||—||—|
|2004–05||University of Michigan Wolverines||CCHA||38||13||19||32||33||—||—||—||—||—|
|2005–06||Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights||AHL||78||15||18||33||37||—||—||—||—||—|
|2006–07||Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights||AHL||12||2||0||2||0||5||0||0||0||2|
|2007–08||Quad City Flames||AHL||18||4||3||7||15||—||—||—||—||—|
Awards and honours
|All-CCHA Rookie Team||2001–02|||
- Career statistics: "Eric Nystrom player card". National Hockey League. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
- Manley, Brendan (July 28, 2010). "Nystrom just can't get a decent bagel in Minnesota". Syosset Patch. Retrieved March 27, 2012.
- "Bob Nystrom player profile". Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved December 13, 2009.
- "Professional Hockey Review: 2010–11; National Hockey League". Jewish Sports Review 8 (87): 7. September–October 2011.
- "Jews (and Mel) on the big screen, Winter sports roundup". Jweekly.com. January 21, 2010. Retrieved January 7, 2011.
- Bob Wechsler (2008). Day by day in Jewish sports history. KTAV Publishing House, Inc. ISBN 1-60280-013-8. Retrieved January 30, 2011.
- Lapointe, Joe (June 22, 2002). "Another Nystrom seeks shot at Cup". New York Times. Retrieved December 13, 2009.
- Board, Mike (October 3, 2008). "Nystrom making father proud". Calgary Flames Hockey Club. Retrieved December 13, 2009.
- Allen, Kevin (November 22, 2000). "Nystrom takes father's game to another level". USA Today. p. C.04.
- "Eric Nystrom player profile". Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved December 13, 2009.
- "Helminen, Nystrom named to U.S. National Junior Team". University of Michigan. December 4, 2002. Retrieved December 13, 2009.
- "Three Wolverines in scouting service's final ranking". University of Michigan. April 26, 2002. Retrieved December 13, 2009.
- Lefebvre, Jean (June 23, 2002). "Here comes the son". CNN/SI. Retrieved December 13, 2009.
- Hanlon, Peter; Kelso, Sean (2009). 2009–10 Calgary Flames Media Guide (PDF). Calgary Flames Hockey Club. p. 83.
- MacFarlane, Steve (September 7, 2007). "Nystrom hungry to shoulder the load". Calgary Sun. Retrieved December 13, 2009.
- "Iginla nets 50th goal of year, two assists as Flames roll in regular season finale". ESPN. April 5, 2008. Retrieved December 13, 2009.
- Lefebvre, Jean (June 28, 2008). "Nystrom's back and ready for more ice time". Calgary Herald. Retrieved December 13, 2009.
- Busby, Ian (April 14, 2010). "Nystrom not aiming for the Isles". Toronto Sun. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
- Andreson, Glen (July 1, 2010). "Wild signs LW Eric Nystrom". Minnesota Wild Hockey Club. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
- Hunt, Steve (January 31, 2012). "Career High in Goals Just Starting Point for Nystrom". Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
- "Taylor Fedun breaks leg". ESPN. October 1, 2011. Retrieved March 27, 2012.
- Brehm, Mike (October 12, 2011). "Stars trade for Eric Nystrom". USA Today. Retrieved March 27, 2012.
- "Stars acquire forward Nystrom from Wild". The Sports Network. October 12, 2011. Retrieved March 27, 2012.
- Staple, Arthur (December 3, 2011). "Eric Nystrom finding a place with Stars". Newsday. Retrieved March 27, 2012.
- "Eric Nystrom profile". National Hockey League. Retrieved April 9, 2012.
- "Pointstreak: Eric Nystrom Player Page for Stavanger Oilers". Retrieved January 14, 2013.
- "Eric Nystrom player card". National Hockey League. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
- Cooper, Josh (July 5, 2013). "Nashville Predators sign four forwards as free agency begins". The Tennessean. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
- "Flames rally over Predators, Eric Nystrom's 4 goals". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2014-01-25. Retrieved 2014-01-25.
- Wilson, Kevin, ed. (2013). 2013–14 Nashville Predators Media Guide. Nashville Predators Hockey Club. p. 257.
- Cruickshank, Scott (March 1, 2008). "Nystrom striptease scores for charity". Calgary Herald. Retrieved December 13, 2009.
- "Player programs and initiatives". Calgary Flames Hockey Club. Retrieved December 13, 2009.
- Sickman, Aaron, ed. (2011). 2011–12 Minnesota Wild Official Team Guide. Minnesota Wild Hockey Club. p. 71.
- Eric Nystrom's career statistics at The Internet Hockey Database
- Eric Nystrom's biography at Legends of Hockey
|Awards and achievements|
|Calgary Flames first round draft pick
| Succeeded by|
|CCHA Best Defensive Forward
| Succeeded by|