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With superstar striker Evgeni Malkin close to returning to the lineup, the penguins did on Wednesday a swap to make room on their squad and payroll.

Reserve striker Sam Lafferty has been transferred to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for minor league striker Alex Nylander.

The 23-year-old Nylander split the 2021/22 season between the Blackhawks taxi team and the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League (AHL). He has scored 12 points (eight goals, four assists) in 23 AHL games.

Nylander has signed a one-year contract valued at $ 874,125 and is a pending restricted free agent for the upcoming off-season. In addition, he is exempt from waivers regarding transactions between NHL and AHL cadres.

Nylander, the eighth pick in the Buffalo Sabers’ 2016 draft, struggled to establish himself in the NHL. Between the Sabers and Blackhawks, he has only accumulated 84 NHL career games and 32 points (13 goals, 19 assists).

His last NHL action was in the 2019/20 season when he appeared in 65 games and scored 26 points (10 goals, 16 assists) for the Blackhawks. Nylander missed the entire 2020-21 season due to a left knee injury that required surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

Nylander is a Swedish national born in Calgary, Alberta and from a prominent hockey family. His brother William is a star striker for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Her father Michael had a 15-year career with the Hartford Whalers, Calgary Flames, Tampa Bay Lightning, Blackhawks, Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, and New York Rangers in the 1990s and 2000s.

Lafferty, 26, is leaving the Penguins after being in some way a member of the franchise since 2014.

As the pick for the fourth round (No. 113 overall) in 2014, Lafferty has spent portions of the past three seasons on the NHL roster. In 94 career games, Lafferty had 21 points (six goals, 15 assists).

This season, Lafferty appeared in only 10 out of 31 possible games – he was a healthy scratch for the other 21 – and recorded two assists.

In the final year of a contract with a salary cap of at least $ 750,000, Lafferty is a pending unrestricted free agent for the upcoming off-season.

Lafferty would have to delete waivers for possible squad maneuvers between the NHL and AHL cadres.

Hailing from Hollidaysburg, Lafferty is a member of a select brotherhood from West Pennsylvania who played for the penguins. In addition to Lafferty, strikers Ryan Malone and Dylan Reese, each from Upper St. Clair, as well as defenseman Nate Guenin from Hopewell and striker Bill Thomas from Fox Chapel have campaigned for the club.

With Malkin in the final stages of recovery from off-season surgery on his right knee, it is expected that he will play again in the near future, maybe next week. As a result, the penguins have had to clear a spot on the list and some space for the salary cap, as he is currently in the long-term injury reserve.

Seth Rorabaugh is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Seth by email at [email protected] or on Twitter.

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