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Connolly, Stillman traded to Blackhawks by Panthers

Florida receives Carlsson, Wallmark for forwards; Chicago also gets Borgstrom, 2021 Draft pick @NHLdotcom

Brett Connolly, Riley Stillman, Henrik Borgstrom and a seventh-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft were traded to the Chicago Blackhawks by the Florida Panthers on Thursday.

Florida received defenseman Lucas Carlsson and center Lucas Wallmark .

Connolly has two seasons remaining on a four-year contract he agreed to with the Panthers on July 1, 2019. The 28-year-old forward scored four points (two goals, two assists) in 21 games this season.


[RELATED: 2020-21 NHL Trade Tracker]


Selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning with the No. 6 pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, Connolly has scored 192 points (100 goals, 92 assists) in 517 regular-season games for the Lightning, Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals and Panthers and 11 points (eight goals, three assists) in 42 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He won the Stanley Cup with the Capitals in 2018.

"Looking back at his last couple of years, he was a pretty good contributor to a Stanley Cup-winning team in Washington," Chicago general manager Stan Bowman said. "He adds some size to our group (6-foot-3, 198 pounds), which we don't have a lot of at the moment, and that's something that's never a bad thing. He has a great shot, he's a goal-scorer. … So we think he's someone who can fit in with this group."

Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said Connolly's style helps make him an effective offensive player. 

"Big body and he has a really good release, it's a heavy shot," Colliton said. "So those two things, if you're willing to be around the net and you have some size, sometimes you can get some greasy goals. But I think his best weapon is his shot. It's heavy and he finds the soft area and he's shown he can score at this level." 

Stillman is in the final season of a three-year contract he signed with Florida on March 3, 2018 and can become a restricted free agent after the season. The 23-year-old defenseman has not scored in eight games this season and has five assists in 43 games since the Panthers selected him in the fourth round (No. 114) of the 2016 NHL Draft. He did not score and was minus-3 in three games against the New York Islanders in the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers last season.

"Riley was a big part of this trade," Bowman said. "You watch him play, he's a different style than almost all of our young defensemen that we have. The biggest thing with him is his competitiveness, his aggressive style. … You want to have players who can make plays and join the rush and create offense, but you have to have some defensemen who are stable defenders, penalty killers and bring a little bit of that competitive spirit, and Riley's that way."

Colliton said he thought Stillman could benefit from a change in scenery.

"He plays hard, physical, he has an edge to him, he has a meanness to him," Colliton said. "I think he had quite a large role last year in Florida for a young player and obviously this year hasn't gone how he would habe hoped, but we expect someone who's hungry and with something to prove."

Borgstrom was Florida's first-round pick (No. 23) in the 2016 NHL Draft. The 23-year-old forward has scored 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 58 NHL games and 19 points (11 goals, eight assists) in 27 games with HIFK in Liiga, the top professional league in Finland, this season.

Connolly and Stillman were assigned to the taxi squad and are expected to join Chicago when it begins a five-game road trip at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, BSOH, NBCSCH, NHL.TV).

The Blackhawks (18-18-5) are fifth in the eight-team Discover Central Division, four points behind the Nashville Predators. The top four teams in the division will make the playoffs.

"I don't think you go into [the NHL Trade Deadline on April 12] it figuring you'll make four trades this week," Bowman said. "We're having a lot of conversations now. I'm not sure it's going to materialize into an actual deal. … Not hesitant to make more trades, but if this is the way it ends for us, that's fine as well. We're not here to just try to get on the board, we'll try to do things that we think fit into our long-term picture."

Carlsson had two assists in 18 games with the Blackhawks over the past two seasons and three points (one goal, two assists) in seven games with Rockford of the American Hockey League. The 23-year-old was selected in the fourth round (No. 110) of the 2016 draft.

Wallmark has played 183 NHL games for the Carolina Hurricanes, Panthers and Blackhawks and scored 59 points (23 goals, 36 assists). The 25-year-old was chosen by Carolina in the fourth round (No. 97) of the 2014 NHL Draft. staff writer Tracey Myers contributed to this report

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