Blackhawks Acquire Connolly, Prospects From Panthers

A day after the first domino fell with Kyle Palmieri heading to the New York Islanders from the New Jersey Devils, the Chicago Blackhawks dipped into the trade market. According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, the Blackhawks acquired Brett Connolly, Riley Stillman, Henrik Borgström and a seventh round pick from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Lucas Carlsson and Lucas Wallmark.

The Panthers free up some cap space as Connolly carries a $3.5 million contract for the next two seasons. After recording 19 goals and 33 points last season, Connolly has only two goals and four points in 21 games this season. The Blackhawks used this opportunity to take on Connolly’s contract while still managing to rebuild for the future.

Blackhawks Add to Prospect Pool

The deal benefits the Blackhawks as they add two potential prospects to their system with good upside. The Blackhawks have been a real surprise this season as they are currently fighting for the final playoff spot, being only two points back of the Nashville Predators. General manager Stan Bowman was not willing to jeopardize that and give away young assets for short term help.

Stan Bowman Chicago Blackhawks
Stan Bowman, Chicago Blackhawks, 2019 NHL Draft (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Stillman, 23, was drafted in the fourth round, 114th overall by the Panthers in 2016. He’s a pending restricted free agent but could provide some good depth on the Blackhawks defense. With the amount of talent on the Panthers blue line, Stillman has an opportunity to make a roster and see some consistent ice time.

The Blackhawks also get the signing rights for Borgström in this deal as he’s currently with HIFK in the Liiga recording, 11 goals and 19 points. He’s a former first round pick in 2016 as he was selected 23rd overall by the Panthers. He had a standout season in 2017-18 at the University of Denver where he recorded 52 points in 40 games, being named a Hobey Baker finalist. In 2018-19, he recorded 18 points in 50 games with the Panthers, but has seen minimal time in the NHL since then. Borgström has a lot of offensive upside and could very well be a key piece for the team’s top-six in the future.

Panthers Clear Cap Space

Moving Connolly’s contract gives the Panthers a chance to clear more salary as they now have over $15.4 million cap space to work with. They added a serviceable depth player in Lucas Wallmark and a prospect in Lucas Carlsson.

Their defense took a big blow after captain Aaron Ekblad suffered a season ending injury and required surgery, which could prompt them to make a move. Though, they may not jump to make one as they still have great depth on their blue line with MacKenzie Weegar and Keith Yandle leading the way for the team.

Salary information from Cap Friendly.