CHICAGO – After the team missed the playoffs for the first time in a decade, and the group looked to get younger, many looked towards a young defenseman as a possible piece for the future.
Henri Jokiharju was taken in the first round of 2017 draft and was viewed as a defenseman of the future for a retooling team. He was on the roster to start the 2018-2019 season, with the hope that he could find his comfort zone on the Blackhawks’ blue line.
Less than a year later, his time in Chicago has come to an end.
In a surprise move on Tuesday afternoon, the Blackhawks sent Jokiharju to the Sabres in exchange for Alex Nylander. Gone was a possible defenseman of the future, who ended up playing in just 38 games last year for Joel Quenneville and Jeremy Colliton.
He had 12 assists but his time in the lineup was inconsistent, and when Jokiharu was sent to Rockford on January 31st, he would never return to the NHL roster.
In exchange, the Blackhawks get a player from Buffalo who didn’t reach the heights that some in that organization might have hoped for. Nylander was selected eighth overall in the 2016 NHL Draft and made his debut for the Sabres late in the following season.
But over the course of the next three seasons, the forward only played in 19 games with three goals and three assists. Two of each came in 12 games last season, where he spent most of the season with Rochester of the AHL.
Maybe he’ll get the chance to reach his potential in a Blackhawks’ uniform, which Jokiharju didn’t get much of a chance to do in his two years with the franchise.