One of the more polarizing members of the Chicago Blackhawks organization is back for another season.
On Monday morning, the team announced that restricted free agent forward Alex Nylander to a one-year contract worth $847,125.
Nylander, 23, was a restricted free agent following the expiration of his entry-level contract after the 2021 season. Nylander signed that contract while with the Buffalo Sabres, the team that drafted him No. 8 overall in the 2016 NHL Draft. He failed to make a lasting impression in Buffalo and was traded to Chicago on July 9, 2019 in exchange for defenseman Henri Jokiharju — a former first round pick as well.
During his first season with Chicago, Nylander scored 10 goals with 16 assists in 62 games while averaging 12:08 of ice time and was plagued by the inconsistencies that affected him in Buffalo. When the league reassembled for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Nylander opened that training camp on Chicago’s top line with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. By the end of Chicago’s stint in that postseason, though, Nylander was a healthy scratch after failing to register a point in eight games.
He missed the entire 2021 season after undergoing knee surgery just before Christmas last year, an injury that cost him a chance to silence an ever-growing number of critics. That 2021 season was a golden opportunity for Nylander to earn a long-term spot with the team, given the Blackhawks’ focus on younger players that season. Now, with a flurry of recent acquisitions indicating the team is going to be less patient with its younger players, Nylander is running out of time to prove his worth to the organization. General Stan Bowman echoed that sentiment in a statement released by the team:
Stan Bowman on Alex Nylander, via press release: pic.twitter.com/4DKcWxRf2y— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) August 16, 2021
Nylander was Chicago’s last remaining restricted free agent, according to the team’s CapFriendly page.