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Penguins Trade: Lafferty to Chicago for former Top Prospect Nylander; Full Analysis

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Pittsburgh Penguins trade: Alex Nylander

The Pittsburgh Penguins made the first NHL trade of 2022. Penguins GM Ron Hextall flipped hometown depth player Sam Lafferty to the Chicago Blackhawks for a formerly heralded prospect, Alex Nylander.

Nylander was the 2016 eighth overall pick by the Buffalo Sabres, and a controversial one. Questions existed about Nylander’s intensity. After missing last season with a leg injury, Nylander played exclusively for Chicago’s AHL affiliate this season. In 23 games with the Rockford Ice Hogs, Nylander has eight goals and 12 points, but is a minus-10.

The 6-foot-1, 192-pound Nylander is a right-shot who is listed as a LW.

In 2019-20, Nylander played 65 NHL games with Chicago and scored 26 points (10-16-26) in 65 games. Chicago acquired Nylander from Buffalo on July 9, 2019 for Henri Jokiharju.

Alex Nylander, 23, is all skill but has not yet shown enough other skills to stick in the NHL. In 84 career NHL games, Nylander has 32 points (13-19-32).

Lafferty, 26, was the Penguins’ fourth-round pick (113th overall) in 2014. The Hollidaysburg, PA native has speed and tenacity but has not found consistency or a consistent spot in Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan’s lineup.

Sam Lafferty played in 10 NHL games this season with two assists. Last season, he dressed for 34 games and had six assists. The versatile Lafferty can play wing or center. In 2019-20, Lafferty scored 13 points (6-7-13) in 50 games for the

Nylander is expected to report to the WBS Penguins to begin his Penguins tenure.

One wonders if Hextall and the Penguins believed someone would claim Lafferty if they tried to slip him through waivers when Evgeni Malkin is activated and used the NHL trade market to recoup an asset for him.

From the Pittsburgh Penguins press release:

Nylander, 23, is signed through the 2021-22 season and carries an average annual value of $874,125.

The 6-foot-1, 192-pound Nylander has 84 games of NHL experience under his belt, recording 13 goals, 19 assists and 32 points with the Blackhawks and Buffalo Sabres. His best NHL season came in 2019-20 with Chicago when he recorded career highs across the board with 65 games played, 10 goals, 16 assists and 26 points.

This season, Nylander has split the season between the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs and Chicago’s taxi squad. With Rockford, the forward has registered eight goals, four assists and 12 points in 23 games. His eight goals are tied for the team lead, while his 12 points rank second (tied). Nylander did not play in 2020-21 due to knee surgery.

In 188 career AHL games, split between Rockford and the Rochester Americans, Nylander has tallied 38 goals, 60 assists and 98 points.

The Swedish forward, who was born in Calgary, AB, played one season of junior hockey with the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League, recording a team-leading 75 points (28G-47A) in 57 games in 2015-16. The forward was named both the CHL and OHL Rookie of the Year after leading all OHL rookies in assists and points.

The forward has played internationally for Sweden at the World Under-18 Junior Championship in 2016 and World Junior Championship in ’16, ’17 and ’18. Nylander helped Team Sweden to a silver medal at the 2016 U18 WJC, as well as the 2018 WJC.

Nylander was originally drafted by the Sabres in the first round (8th overall) in the 2016 NHL Draft.

Nylander is the son of Michael Nylander, a veteran of 920 NHL games from 1992-09, and brother of Toronto Maple Leafs’ forward William Nylander.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Chris R
Chris R
5 months ago

One thing to ask when evaluating any Chicago player is how much could the team’s mismanagement, from coaching to GM, have impacted their development. When your Vezina-winning (from last season!) goalie loses seven out of the first eight games he plays, it’s clear there’s something rotten in the state of Illinois.

DaGama
DaGama
5 months ago

Acquired to relieve the Sully doghouse heat from Kappy? /s

David Heyl
David Heyl
5 months ago

Not getting bigger or adding grit. In fact just the opposite. Oh well enjoy the fun until the physical playoffs!!

Rob
Rob
5 months ago
Reply to  David Heyl

It was more about getting something for Lafferty rather than losing him through waivers. Nylander is going to be in the minors. A move to actually improve the team would require trading away someone of value, not a toiling 4th liner/minor leaguer

Ethan
Ethan
5 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Agree. Sam brought something to the lineup that almost all the other pretty skating forwards do not (except perhaps ZAR). That was the ability to throw a mean hit. Watched him drop Big Z twice last season in same game. He was also lightning fast–would seem like a Hextall-tenacity kind of guy, not Sully material evidently. Hopefully he gets the chance to play in Shy Town. As game tonight is on TNT, guess I’ll have to wait a few to watch Guins. Maybe another move is in store by then, one can hope!

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[…] trade: The Pittsburgh Penguins have traded Sam Lafferty to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Alex […]

Fredrick
Fredrick
5 months ago

I am excited about this trade. I have been following Alex Nylander for a bit. He just was never able to put it all together. Maybe he could be the next E. Rodriguez and he could put it together on our team with some coaching.

MrNails
MrNails
5 months ago
Reply to  Fredrick

Hope springs eternal. Maybe he’ll just be another Kappy.

Ujermaikan
Ujermaikan
5 months ago
Reply to  MrNails

Hell, I’d take Kappy for Lafferty any day tbh.

In my opinion this is a sneaky good trade. Nylander has some serious skill and he’s still really young. If he can just put it together he could be a beautiful surprise for pens fans. If he doesn’t pan out then we didn’t really give up much to take a chance on him. I think it’s well worth it.

Jstripsky
Jstripsky
5 months ago

If watching Sid and how hard he continues to work to improve his game doesn’t motivate a player to work harder, there is no hope for them. Hopefully Nylander will see what Kapanen hasn’t and kick himself in the butt and get his career on track.

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