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Pittsburgh Penguins Acquire Alex Nylander

Pittsburgh Penguins Alex Nylander

Anytime the Pittsburgh Penguins organization announce that they’ve made a trade, fans hold their breath. This is largely in part thanks to former general manager, Jim Rutherford. He made some questionable trades in the latter part of his tenure, so fans are still scarred from that. However, it seems that current general manager Ron Hextall made what is looking like a sweet deal in acquiring Alex Nylander.

The Trade

The trade was only a one-for-one. The Penguins traded Sam Lafferty to the Chicago Blackhawks for Nylander. Lafferty has spent the entirety of his career with Pittsburgh as they drafted him 113th overall in the 2014 NHL entry draft. Since then, he made his NHL debut during the 2019-2020 season. In a total of 94 NHL games, he’s recorded six goals and 21 points.

Pittsburgh Penguins Alex Nylander

Image Courtesy of Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire

Nylander is certainly more of an interesting case. He was drafted eighth overall in the 2016 NHL entry draft by the Buffalo Sabres. However, he only played 19 games for Buffalo throughout the span of three seasons. On July 9, 2019, the Sabres shipped Nylander off to Chicago for defenseman Henri Jokiharju. There, Nylander found his stride. Well, kind of.

Nylander played 65 games in the 2019-2020 season for Chicago, putting up 10 goals and 26 points. In one season, Nylander smashed all of Lafferty’s point totals. Unfortunately, Nylander suffered a knee injury and didn’t play in any games at all last season. Similarly, he hasn’t played a single NHL game this season as he’s been finding his game again in the AHL.

Was This a Good Trade?

So far, this looks like it could be a slam dunk for the Pittsburgh Penguins. To acquire a previous eighth overall pick for who is only a depth forward? That’s nice. Then, think about how Nylander is three years younger than Lafferty. That’s really cool. Lastly, think about Nylander’s development around players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. That’s amazing.

Pittsburgh Penguins Alex Nylander
Image Courtesy of Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Of course, it’s only a slam dunk if Nylander can truly snap out his slump. As previously mentioned, he missed an entire year due to a knee injury. That’s not very easy to come back from. However, the Penguins seem to have an uncanny knack for developing players and turning them into notable stars. It’s likely he’s going to spend some more time in the AHL, but he could find his game again no problem.

This seems like a very low-risk, high-reward trade for Pittsburgh. They have plenty of depth forwards to replace Lafferty and Nylander if none of this works out. However, if it does work out, then Nylander could be a valuable piece for the rest of this season. However, Lafferty will be missed in Pittsburgh, and fans should undoubtedly wish him well in his future endeavors. Unless, of course, Pittsburgh plays against the Blackhawks.


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