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Blackhawks trade Alex Nylander to Penguins for Sam Lafferty

We have a trade.

Buffalo Sabres v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

The Alex Nylander saga in Chicago is over.

On Wednesday, the Blackhawks traded Nylander to the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward Lafferty.

Lafferty, 26, was a fourth-round pick of the Penguins (113th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft. He made his NHL debut during the 2019-20 season and has appeared in 94 games overall with six goals and 15 assists while averaging 9:35 of ice time. This season, he’s played in 10 games while notching a pair of assists with an average ice time of just 8:43. According to CapFriendly, Lafferty is in the final year of a two-year contract with an annual cap hit of $750,000. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.

Nylander, 23, has spent the entire 2021-22 season with the Rockford IceHogs with eight goals and four assists in 23 games. He missed the entire 2021 season with an injury after tallying 10 goals and 16 assists during 65 games of the 2019-20 season. Nylander famously opened the 2020 postseason on Chicago’s top line with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews before ending that postseason as a healthy scratch, failing to record a point in the eight postseason games he played.

In a vacuum, this trade would register as little more than a shrug of the shoulders. However, it bears repeating that Nylander was acquired in a July 2019 trade with the Buffalo Sabres that sent former first-round pick Henri Jokiharju to the northeast. While Jokiharju has had his struggles in Buffalo, he’s still finding consistent ice time at the NHL level. Meanwhile, the player that the Blackhawks acquired for Jokiharju has spent this entire season in the AHL and is now with a different organization.

It’s a story that epitomizes the Blackhawks’ current state of affairs, really.

Here’s some extra information on Lafferty, courtesy of former SCH podcast guest @JFreshHockey on Twitter: