The Chicago Blackhawks announced today that they have acquired defensemen T.J. Brennan and Ville Pokka and the rights to restricted free agent goaltender Anders Nilsson from the New York Islanders in exchange for defenseman Nick Leddy and goaltender Kent Simpson. Brennan and Pokka will report directly to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League, while Nilsson will remain with Ak Bars of the Kontinental Hockey League.
Brennan, 25, appeared in 76 regular-season games with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies last season, posting 25 goals and 47 assists. The 2014 Eddie Shore Award winner, given to the AHL’s most outstanding defenseman, was also named to the 2013-14 AHL First All-Star Team, alongside Blackhawks prospect Adam Clendening. He has recorded 11 points (4G, 7A) in 40 career National Hockey League games with Buffalo and Florida, making his NHL debut on Nov. 23, 2011, with the Sabres. He was originally selected by Buffalo in the second round (31st overall) in the 2007 NHL Draft.
The Willingboro, N.J. native has also recorded 199 points (76G, 123A) in 301 regular-season AHL games with the Marlies, Portland Pirates and Rochester Americans. Prior to his professional career, Brennan registered 116 points (37G, 79A) in 192 career Quebec Major Junior Hockey League games with the St. John’s Fog Devils and Montreal Juniors from 2006 to 2009. Brennan tallied two points (1G, 1A) in a team-high five preseason games with the Islanders this year.
Pokka, 20, played in 54 games with Karpat in the SM-liiga in Finland last season, recording 27 points (6G, 21A). He has appeared in 138 career games over four seasons with Karpat, tallying a total of 42 points (12G, 30A). The defenseman was originally selected by the New York Islanders in the second round (34th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.
The Torino, Finland native represented his home country at the World Junior Championship each of the past three years. Pokka led Finland to a 3-2 overtime victory over Sweden in the gold medal game at the 2014 World Junior Championship earlier this year. He finished this year’s tournament with four points (1G, 3A) and a plus-seven rating, the highest amongst all defensemen in the tournament. Pokka appeared in one preseason game for the Islanders, recording one shot on goal.
Nilsson, 24, has posted a 4-1-2 record, 2.10 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in eight games with the KHL’s Ak Bars this season. The Lulea, Sweden, native split the 2013-14 season between the New York Islanders and American Hockey League’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Nilsson posted an 8-7-2 record with a 3.11 GAA and .896 SV% in 19 regular-season games with the Islanders. He collected a 12-4-2 mark, 2.81 GAA, .901 SV% and two shutouts in 29 regular-season games with Bridgeport.
Originally drafted in the third round (62nd overall) by the Islanders in the 2009 NHL Draft, Nilsson has a 9-9-2 record, 3.05 GAA, .898 SV% and one shutout in 23 career NHL games across two seasons with New York (2011-12, 2013-14). He has a 35-33-4 mark in 75 career AHL games with Bridgeport. Nilsson won a bronze medal with Team Sweden at the 2014 World Championship, posting a 6-2 record, 1.54 GAA, .938 SV% and two shutouts in nine games. He has recorded a 27-13-15 mark with eight shutouts in 102 regular-season games from 2009-11 with Lulea of the SHL.