Chicago Blackhawks Strange Swap: Jokiharju for Nylander
By Michael Wagner
In a strange turn of events, Stan Bowman has traded away another former 1st round pick in defenseman Henri Jokiharju.
The Chicago Blackhawks have traded one of their top defensive prospects, Henri Jokiharju, to the Buffalo Sabres for 21 year old forward, Alexander Nylander, who is surrounded by various question marks.
Over the last few weeks, there has been speculation floating around on Blackhawks’ Twitter about what the team was going to do with Henri Jokiharju in the upcoming season.
Although you may have missed them, there were signs that Jokiharju was not going to be part of the NHL club come this fall.
Jokiharju put up solid stats during his first professional season, spending 38 games with the Blackhawks and 30 games with the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL.
During his 38 games with the Blackhawks, he notched 12 assists, with 5 of those 12 assists coming in his first 3 professional games.
Although he was never a consistent point producer, Jokiharju put up really strong analytical numbers, which would label him as the Blackhawks’ most effective defenseman.
During this offseason, the Blackhawks have completely reshaped their blue line with the addition of players like Calvin de Haan and Olli Maatta, but it was still believed other NHL defensemen would be moved to make room for players like Jokiharju, Adam Boqvist, and Ian Mitchell.
It turns out Stan Bowman has decided to move a solid prospect for a player that has boom or bust potential, much like his deals from last season such as Dylan Strome, Brendan Perlini, and etc.
What are the Blackhawks Getting in Alexander Nylander?
That is the question that everyone is asking. Nylander is a former 8th overall pick who has struggled to find his place in the NHL.
The brother of William, and the son of Michael, has not seen the immediate NHL success that his brother and father has seen. However, that does not mean that he cannot meet that potential that was there when he was drafted.
In his draft year, he was compared to his brother of course, but also, saw comparisons to Jonathan Drouin and Johnny Gaudreau. All players you would really love to see comparisons to, but Nylander has not seen the immediate success that those other players have seen.
Thus far, Nylander has only played in 19 games across three seasons. In those 19 games, he netted a grand total of 6 points (3G, 3A). Those numbers are concerning for someone who is a former 8th overall pick.
It is clear that Buffalo just didn’t see Nylander as a top player going forward for them, with the likes of Jeff Skinner, Connor Sheary, Kyle Okposo, and Sam Reinhart blocking his way on the wing.
The recent acquisitions of Marcus Johansson and Jimmy Vesey certainly didn’t help Nylander’s case neither.
Where Does Alexander Nylander Fit in Chicago?
This is a question that is going to be speculated on until the start of training camp, but I have a feeling he might be destined for the Blackhawks’ top six.
I think Bowman and the Blackhawks hope he can develop into the top winger that his brother William has blossomed into with the Maple Leafs.
Slotting Alexander Nylander on a line with Kane and Toews, or Strome and DeBrincat, could reignite a dormant flame and be the opportunity of a lifetime.
There is no doubt that there was a logjam on defense with players like Boqvist, Mitchell, and Beaudin knocking on the door.
However, with this trade, Stan has now created a logjam of inconsistent forwards who still need to prove their NHL value. I don’t think this is the solution that they should have been looking for.
With that being said, we will have to see where Nylander fits with this current group of forwards, but this acquisition simultaneously creates a whole new set of questions for the Blackhawks.