CHICAGO – When they made the trade back in 2019, there was hope that the Blackhawks would be able to get the most out of a former Top Ten pick with a change of scenery.
That’s why then general manager Stan Bowman decided to part ways with one of his best young defenseman, Henri Jokiharju, in order to acquire Alex Nylander from the Sabres. The eighth-overall pick from the 2016 NHL Draft hadn’t been able to reach his potential in Buffalo, and the hope was he could do so in Chicago.
But after three years that included some highs, a serious injury, and a few months in the AHL, the Blackhawks decided to move on from Nylander on Wednesday.
The Blackhawks traded the forward to the Penguins in exchange for another forward Sam Lafferty, who is a player who has had his struggles finding in the ice in Pittsburgh.
A fourth-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, Lafferty has played in 94 games in the top league since making his debut with the Penguins in 2019. So far in the 2021-2022 campaign, Lafferty has played in ten games with two assists, adding to his 21 in his career along with 15 goals.
Nylander was able to contribute his first season with the Blackhawks in 2019-2020, playing in 65 games with ten goals and 16 assists. He also played in eight postseason games that season in the Edmonton bubble, but a knee injury during that time would lead to surgery that would cost him the entire 2021 campaign.
So far this season, Nylander has only seen time with the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL, scoring eight goals with four assists in 23 games. Like Lafferty, he’ll get the chance for a fresh start with the Penguins as he continues his NHL career.