Coughlin, 20, most recently posted 20 goals and 40 assists in his second season with the Vernon Vipers of the British Columbia Hockey League. He also scored three goals and had 10 points in 11 playoff games this season. He is expected to attend the University of Vermont for the 2015-16 campaign.
Coughlin, who was a fifth-round pick by Edmonton in the 2014 draft, is another example of a young prospect that General Manager Stan Bowman loves to keep stashed in his pantry for further development. In exchange for Coughlin, the Blackhawks parted ways with Nilsson, a 25-year-old goalie who they acquired from the New York Islanders in the Nick Leddy trade.
Da Windy City
Nilsson, a third-round pick in 2009 by New York, played for Ak Bars Kazan of the KHL last season and went 20-9-8 while posting a 1.71 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage in 38 games. He also had a 1.54 goals-against average in 2o playoff games. He was a top prospect in the Blackhawks organization, but was unlikely to see playing time with Corey Crawford and Scott Darling safely attached to the goaltending spots in Chicago.
Both teams get a highly coveted prospect out of this deal. The Blackhawks get a talented 20-year-old who won’t challenge for a roster spot for at least a year, but could be in the mix down the road. Coughlin will have at least a couple of years to develop at Vermont and could get invited to training camp in a couple of seasons. The Blackhawks also have plenty of young depth to sift through before Coughlin can be accounted for in the equation.
Edmonton, which traded for Cam Talbot at this year’s draft, gets a young insurance policy who has experience playing at the professional level. Nilsson played in 23 total games for the Islanders, most recently during the 2013-14 season. Nilsson may challenge for a backup job behind Talbot in Edmonton’s goalie-depraved organization. The Blackhawks were very high on Nilsson, but did not initially expect Darling to immerse himself into the backup role for at least the next season.
This deal shows the Blackhawks are clearly comfortable with their goaltending situation, and that isn’t limited to Crawford. Dealing a blue-chip prospect with NHL potential shows that Bowman is confident that Darling’s breakout season wasn’t just a blip on the radar and shows that Bowman believes Darling is a more-than-adequate backup.
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