A day after speaking to the media, Pittsburgh Penguins president of hockey operations and general manager Kyle Dubas has swung a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Penguins have acquired forward Emil Bemstrom from Columbus in exchange for forward Alex Nylander and a conditional sixth-round pick in 2026.
From the Penguins perspective, it didn’t look as though Nylander was a fit with head coach Mike Sullivan’s style of play as he spent most of his time with the Penguins organization in the AHL. In the past two seasons, Nylander dressed in 14 NHL games and had a goal and an assist while getting several looks in the Penguins top six, something he was never able to turn into offensive production. The eighth overall pick in the 2016 NHL entry draft has never lived up to his pre-draft expectations and now finds himself with his fourth NHL franchise in eight years.
The Blue Jackets likely view the draft pick as the central piece of the deal. Although a sixth-round pick in two drafts isn’t exactly a haul, Aaron Portzline of The Athletic is reporting that the pick becomes a third-round pick if Bemstrom scores six goals the rest of this season with Pittsburgh.
In Bemstrom, the Penguins are acquiring a 24-year-old with some speed who was available on waivers just a few months ago. The former fourth-round pick his five goals and six assists in 32 games this season after posting a career-high 22 points in 55 games last year. He spent eight games in the AHL this season where he was dominant with 10 goals and four assists.
The move could be the first of many for the Penguins as Dubas mentioned yesterday that getting younger would be a priority and the Penguins could also make a bigger move if they elect to move on from pending free agent Jake Guentzel.