The Blackhawks made their second trade with the Panthers in less than a week Thursday, acquiring forwards Henrik Borgstrom and Brett Connolly, defenseman Riley Stillman and a seventh-round draft pick as part of a six-item swap.
Forward Lucas Wallmark and defenseman Lucas Carlsson were sent to Florida in the trade.
The Hawks previously acquired forward Vinnie Hinostroza in exchange for minor-leaguer Brad Morrison in another trade with the Panthers last Friday.
“We are receiving a very exciting, young player with a bright future in Henrik Borgstrom,” Hawks general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. “He is a high-end talent and we think he has the ability to be a big time player for us.”
Connolly’s name had been floated as a bad contract the Hawks could acquire for assets, as the 28-year-old wing has two years left after this season with a $3.5 million cap hit. He could potentially turn his career around, though, as he tallied 46 points in 2018-19 and 33 points in 2019-20 before plummeting to just four points so far this season.
Borgstrom and the draft pick are payment for taking Connolly on. The former was the 26th overall draft pick in 2016 and seemed to be living up to his potential in 2018-19, when he scored 18 points in 50 games as a rookie. But the 6-3 center spent most of 2019-20 in the AHL and 2021 in Finland.
Hawks general manager Stan Bowman has a history of gambling on former first-round picks who fell out of favor with their original teams — Dylan Strome and Alex Nylander are two recent examples.
He’ll hope to similarly revive Borgstrom, who was a college teammate of Ian Mitchell at the University of Denver. Per a source, Borgstrom was a late addition to the trade, taking the place of a higher draft pick.
Meanwhile, Carlsson and Stillman are a like-for-like swap: two 23-year-old defenseman who have waffled on the NHL-AHL borderline during recent seasons and could benefit from a fresh opportunity. Stillman, the son of longtime NHL star Cory Stillman, has played 42 games for the Panthers over the past two seasons.
“We also add to our forward depth with an experienced veteran in Brett Connolly and a physical defenseman in Riley Stillman,” Bowman said. “Connolly is a proven goal scorer and adds some versatility to our front line, while Stillman is a young, physical defenseman whose aggressive style brings a different element to our defense.”
Wallmark, who played for the Panthers last season before signing in Chicago last fall, had fallen out of favor this season and needed to be unloaded to keep the Hawks below the NHL’s 50-contract limit.
Connolly and Stillman will be assigned to the taxi squad, the Hawks said. Stillman will be a restricted free agent this summer.