Hawks fan here. Do I like this trade? No. Hell no. But I won't judge it too harshly yet. I mean, neither guy has skated for their new team! Fact of the matter is, the Hawks gave Joki a shot last year and it just didn't seem to be clicking, which is why Joki got sent down. I believe Bowman WAS too hasty to give up on Joki. He performed really well in the AHL. The Hawks have a lot, and I mean A LOT, of defensive prospects in the pipeline. It was only a matter of time before a big name prospect was on the move. In an ideal trade, I say the Hawks could've traded Mitchell and Krys for Nylander (if they really had their heart set on this guy).
Now, onto Nylander. He has not performed well on Buffalo's AHL team. I believe he does have all the tools to be successful. He's young, 21. He has a great shot as well. He definitely needs to work on his speed and strength on his skates and on his stick. But this all sounds like the common complaints of Dylan Strome, and he has done very well with Chicago in his short amount of time with the team! Secondly, Colliton has a system that clearly works for younger guys. Having come up recently from an AHL team, Colliton definitely runs his offense through a system that works well with younger guys. Colliton called up a few names last year that made me scratch my head, that ended up performing well at the next level. It is totally possible that Nylander could thrive in Chicago with a change of scene, a change of culture, and, most importantly, a new system that can hopefully allow him to show off his strengths.
Onto the roles each player will face this upcoming season. Having watched Joki in Chicago and Rockford, I think he still needs another year or at the very least half year of AHL hockey under his belt. Hearing reports that Buffalo is looking to trade Risto, I think that's a fine idea, but I don't think Joki will be filling that role right away. Joki is young and he still needs to find his feet in the NHL. Buffalo, much like Chicago, has many good, older d men who can potentially teach up Joki and help his along his development. With the mix of some younger names on D, both on the roster and in the system, Joki will still feel like a main focus of development, while still having proper guidance.
As for Nylander this next year, I think he will crack the NHL roster. There is a lot of eyes on Bowman and Nylander now for this trade to work. And Hawks fans will want to see it pay off sooner rather than later. Where does Nylander fit on the team though? I think Colliton has a few options. I believe the Hawks will go strong on their second line. It'll be DeBrincat-Strome-Kane. First line will feature Saad-Toews- and? I think the Hawks have two realistic options here.
Option 1: Perlini. Perlini has some playing experience with these players last year and seemed to perform well. The Hawks are still in contract negotiations with him. Hopefully they can sign his to a 2 year deal. That way, he can continue to prove himself within the Hawks organization, the Hawks can re-sign our big name players of Strome and DeBrincat, get a realistic view of our cap space, and be rid of Anisimov's atrocious 4.55 million dollar contract.
Option 2: Nylander. I know that to many many many of you, this suggestion comes as a shock, but hear me out. Nylander is young. And on any NHL team, youth needs good guidance, both on and off the ice. He would be playing with two seasoned vets, the team captain, and I truly believe that their play compliments each other rather nicely. Saad is a playmaker. He has decent speed and can make passes through the D and right on target. Toews is a terrific defensive forward, and digs pucks out of the corner. All that leaves is for someone to focus on getting to scoring positions and putting the puck home. Enter Nylander? It's been said he doesn't have the best wheels in the league. Far from it. And as for his strength on the puck, he's still young but needs to show improvement in that area. If he allows the other guys to be the battlers for the puck, he can focus on his strength, his shot, while working on the other aspects of his game.
If the Hawks do put Perlini on the first line, I see Nylander fitting well in a third line of Caggiula-Anisimov-Nylander. These two players bolster similar attributes of the first line, without the speed. Caggiula and Anisimov both fight for the puck in the corners. Anisimov has pivoted his game well in the past few years, losing his speed and staying back to be more defensive. He also has become a very fair puck mover, combining his year of experience with his above average vision. Before his concussion last year, Caggiula did a fantastic job scoring "garbage goals" (a term I've always hated) right around the net. Getting those scoring chances will allow Nylander to get open and, while all eyes are on Caggiula around the cage, lead to some great offensive production on a third line.
Was this a great deal for Chicago? No. Was it even a necessary deal for Chicago? Again, no. The Hawks gained a fair number of wingers prior to this trade. These names include the return of Andrew Shaw, Ryan Carpenter (who could play wing OR center, I know), Anton Wedin from overseas, a now 26 year old "rookie", Dominik Kubalik, again from overseas, Aleski Saarela, who has put up better numbers than Nylander in the AHL in less time, John Quenville, and the re-signing of Dylan Sikura. That is 7 wingers PRIOR to the Nylander trade. I truly believe that only Shaw and Carpenter will make the team this year, with Saarela being called up midway through. So the Hawks have stockpiled wingers, and for what purpose? Has Bowman even glanced at his center depth? It features Toews, aging, Strome, consistency issues, Anisimov, expensive and aging, Kampf, 3rd or 4th liner for life, Kurashev and Entwistle, BIG question marks, and Kirby Dach, who, in my opinion, will not be the future #1 center that Turcotte would've been....
Sorry if this long article-like post was very Blackhawk centric. As I stated before, I am a Blackhawks fan and I don't know THAT much about the Sabres side of the argument. All in all, Joki is going to be a terrific D man for years to come, unfortunately for this commenter, not in red and black. As for Nylander, while his career hasn't panned out to this point, I don't see why he wouldn't be able to turn it around and be a decently productive player in the NHL. Chicago by no stretch of the imagination WON this trade. But maybe it isn't as bad as the people are claiming it is. The Hawks have a lot of very good and young talent on the blue line coming up. Instead of dreading the negatives, we should realize, what's done is done, move forward, and support our team.
ONE GOAL! GO HAWKS!