CRANBERRY — Scratch forward Alex Nylander off the list of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ potential free agents.
GM Ron Hextall avoided having to qualify Nylander getting him to agree to a one-year, two-way contract that carries a $750,000 salary-cap hit if/when Nylander is in the NHL.
The Penguins acquired Nylander, 24, from Chicago for Sam Lafferty Jan. 5. He never cracked the major-league lineup, but had 14 goals and 16 assists in 44 games with their American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre.
Shortly after his signing was revealed, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced that restricted free agents Kasperi Kapanen, P.O Joseph and Kasper Bjorkqvist have received qualifying offers, and that a long list of players will not, making them unrestricted and free to sign with any team.
Bjorkqvist, who has signed to play in his native Finland next season, was a bit of a surprise, but it was a given that Joseph, the organization’s top defense prospect, would be qualified.
By qualifying Kapanen, Joseph and Bjorkqvist, the Penguins assured themselves of being able to match any offer those players might receive from another club, or to receive compensation if they opt against matching.
The group that was not includes forwards Danton Heinen, Justin Almeida, Jordy Bellerive and Jan Drozg, defensemen Niclas Almari, Cam Lee, Will Reilly and goalie Alex D’Orio.
The Penguins still are allowed to negotiate with any of those players, although there was no immediate indication of whether they plan to do so.
Nylander, who was Buffalo’s first-round draft choice in 2016, has 13 goals and 19 assists in 84 NHL games with the Sabres and Blackhawks.
His most productive season in the NHL was 2019-20, when he put up 10 goals and 16 assists in 65 games for Chicago.
He is 6-foot-1, 192 pounds and the son of former NHL forward Michael Nylander, as well as the brother of Toronto forward William Nylander.