Blackhawks’ Alex Nylander experiment ends feebly with trade to Penguins

Alex Nylander’s fruitless tenure with the Blackhawks ended Wednesday with a whimper.

The Hawks traded Nylander, who hadn’t made an NHL appearance since the 2019-20 season, to the Penguins for Sam Lafferty.

Lafferty adds some depth and physicality to the Hawks, but he’s a known commodity at this point. The 26-year-old forward has tallied 15 points and 218 hits in 94 games for the Penguins over the last three seasons.

He’d struggled to crack their lineup this season, making only 10 appearances with two points — and with Evgeni Malkin likely to return soon, he might’ve been bound for waivers if not traded.

Far more meaningful than the Lafferty acquisition, however, is the end of the Nylander era, which will go down as one of ex-general manager Stan Bowman’s most egregious mistakes.

While Henri Jokiharju — the man traded for Nylander in summer 2019 — averages more than 21 minutes per game as a 22-year-old top-pairing defenseman for the rebuilding Sabres, Nylander never came close to panning out as the top-six playmaking winger Bowman envisioned.

He missed all of last season recovering from knee surgery and appeared nowhere near the necessary fitness levels in NHL training camp this season. Although he had been scoring at a decent clip — 12 points in 23 games — in the AHL, he no longer seemed to be on the call-up radar.

This story will be updated.

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