Blackhawks trade defenseman Henri Jokiharju to Sabres for Alexander Nylander
Buffalo nets a top-four blue-liner, while Chicago lands a former first-round forward
The Buffalo Sabres and Chicago Blackhawks have swapped former first-round draft picks, announcing Tuesday a trade that sends Blackhawks defenseman Henri Jokiharju to the Sabres in exchange for forward Alexander Nylander.
Nylander was the No. 8 overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft just three seasons ago, but the 21-year-old winger has registered just 19 games in his NHL career thus far, logging three goals and three assists in between stints at the AHL level. The younger brother of Toronto Maple Leafs star William Nylander, he carries a 2019-20 salary of $863,333 -- an ever-so-slight discount compared to Jokiharju, who went 29th overall in the 2017 draft and will cost $925,000 this coming season.
While Nylander could benefit from relocating now that Buffalo's offense features both young and established talents like Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner, Sam Reinhart and Casey Mittelstadt, the Sabres have warranted early praise for the swap.
As The Athletic's Mark Lazerus reported earlier Tuesday, the 20-year-old Jokiharju had endured a recent and "curious plummet down the organizational depth chart." But the Finnish prospect, who debuted in 2018-19 with 12 points in 38 games, has the makings of a "legitimate top-four defenseman in the NHL ... and a future pairing guy -- which the Blackhawks desperately need in the present and the future." Jokiharju, Lazerus added, "has the skills, the smarts, the savvy and the self-possession to be a very good player for a very long time."
He joins Rasmus Dahlin, the No. 1 overall pick in 2018, on Buffalo's blue line ahead of the 2019-20 season.
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