First Line Success: Budding Chemistry Of 13-38-92 Is On Full Display For Blue Jackets

By Will Chase on March 18, 2024 at 1:45 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets' Alex Nylander looks on against the Montreal Canadiens during the second period at Bell Centre.
David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
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Not Rick Nash, not Artemi Panarin or Cam Aktinson.

No one has had the type of start Alex Nylander has had with the Columbus Blue Jackets through his first 12 games with the franchise.

The former first-round pick scored twice in Saturday's 4-2 win over the San Jose Sharks to give him eight goals in 11 games since the Feb. 22 trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins. In his Blue Jackets tenure, he has 11 points.

Nylander, 26 years old, is on his fourth NHL team since being drafted by the Buffalo Sabres with the eighth overall pick in 2016. He only scored six points (three goals, three assists) in 19 games with the Sabres across three seasons.

Nylander's first and so far only full NHL season came with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2019-20, when he played in 65 games and scored 26 points (10 goals, 16 assists). That year remains the high watermark for Nylander in terms of games played and points scored.

Nylander suffered a knee injury during the 2019-20 playoffs and missed all of 2020-21 recovering from knee surgery.

He played for Chicago's AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs in 2021-22, before a trade to the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he joined the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Nylander played most of 2022-23 and 2023-24 in the AHL before finding his new opportunity with the Blue Jackets.

With his fourth new team, there was initial chemistry with Cole Sillinger.

Nylander picked up his first point with a secondary assist on Sillinger's goal in the 4-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 29. Then he scored his first goal on the power play in that game.

He picked up a primary helper on Sillinger's tally in the 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Mar. 2.

Nylander's coming out party occurred during his hat trick performance when he scored his first-career hat trick in the 6-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Mar. 4. Sillinger picked up a primary assist on Nylander's second goal.

Sillinger had another primary assist on Nylander's goal in the 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Mar. 7.

In the 3-2 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators on Mar. 14, Nylander scored on the power play, with Johnny Gaudreau picking up the primary assist.

Against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday, the trio of Nylander (two goals, one assist), Gaudreau (one goal, two assists), and Boone Jenner (one goal, one assist) shined as each registered multi-point games.

The three connected on Gaudreau's goal to put the Jackets ahead 3-1 in the second period. Then Gaudreau returned the favor with the dish to Nylander on the empty-net goal to seal the 4-2 win.

Gaudreau-Jenner-Nylander at 5v5 (per
Corsi For/Against Shots For/Against Scoring Chances For/Against High Danger Chances For/Against Goals For/Against
69/45 25/26 36/26 7/8 4-4
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