Henri Jokiharju was traded to the Buffalo Sabres by the Chicago Blackhawks for forward Alexander Nylander on Tuesday.
Jokiharju was a first-round pick (No. 29) by the Blackhawks at the 2017 NHL Draft and split last season between Chicago and Rockford of the American Hockey League. The 20-year-old defenseman had 12 assists in 38 games for the Blackhawks and 17 points (two goals, 15 assists) in 30 AHL games. He also had five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games for Finland to help them win the gold medal at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship.
"Henri is a young, mobile defenseman who has shown he can compete at the NHL level," Sabres general manager Jason Botterill said. "His international success last season only furthered his development and we are excited to add him to our current group of defensemen."
[RELATED: NHL Trade Tracker]
Nylander was the No. 8 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft by the Sabres and had four points (two goals, two assists) in 12 NHL games last season. The 21-year-old had 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists) in 49 games for Rochester of the AHL.
He has six points (three goals, three assists) in 19 NHL games the past three seasons.
"I thought maybe I'd be in the NHL sooner than I have been. But I'm just really excited, really looking forward to being part of the Blackhawks organization and they're really good at developing players," Nylander said. "So they obviously know what they're doing, and I'm just trying to do my best. The stuff that happened in Buffalo and Rochester is in the past. Of course, you want to be in the NHL as soon as you want to be, but now I'm just looking forward for the future and going to give it my all. I'm just really happy for being here and being part of the Chicago Blackhawks organization."
Video: Sabres trade Nylander to Blackhawks for Jokiharju
Chicago general manager Stan Bowman said Nylander has a chance to play on one of its top two lines.
"I expect him to be fighting for a spot on our team, for sure," Bowman said. "We don't hand out those jobs in the summer, but I think with his offensive talent and his skill level, it's certainly exciting to think what he can be when you put him with some of the players we have. If you look at our team last year, we have two pretty good pairs there between [forward Patrick] Kane and [center Jonathan] Toews, [center Dylan] Strome and [forward Alex] DeBrincat. One thing about Alex that's appealing, as well, is he can play left and right wing. Not every player can do that, but he has the skill level to play on the off wing. Looking at our top two lines, one line we're probably looking for a left wing, the other we're looking for a right winger. Those tandems may not stay in place, but the way we ended the year, it's probably something we're going to start with. So now it's a question of, who do we fill in around them, and I think Alex is a candidate. But it's still early to see where that's going to go."