The Chicago Blackhawks continued their active offseason on Tuesday, sending defenseman Henri Jokiharju to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for forward Alexander Nylander.
Jokiharju, the team’s first round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago, registered 12 assists in 38 games with the Blackhawks last season, but was demoted to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs at the midseason mark. He had 17 points in 30 games with the IceHogs, and also played with Team Finland at the World Junior Championships last winter.
Nylander, the Sabres’ first round pick in the 2016 draft, has three career NHL goals and three assists in 19 games over parts of three seasons. He scored 12 goals and had 19 assists for the AHL’s Rochester Americans during the 2018-19 campaign.
The move comes as the Blackhawks have initiated a massive makeover of their blue line throughout the organization. The team has acquired NHL defensemen Olli Maatta and Calvin de Haan in trades this offseason, and already said goodbye to Gustav Forsling, whom they traded to Carolina.
Jokiharju’s departure comes as a surprise to some, but the blue liner never quite fit in with Jeremy Colliton’s system when the coach took over from Joel Quenneville last season.
The move could also open the door for a player like Adam Boqvist, the Blackhawks’ first round pick in 2018, to have a shot at the opening night roster for the squad.