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Panthers acquire a pair of Lucas’ from the Blackhawks in surprising deal

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Cats send Connolly, Stillman, Borgstrom and 7th rounder to Chicago

Chicago Blackhawks v Florida Panthers Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

The Florida Panthers have traded Brett Connolly, Riley Stillman, Henrik Borgstrom and a seventh-round pick in 2021 to the Chicago Blackhawks for forward Lucas Wallmark and defenseman Lucas Carlsson,

The 25-year-old Wallmark returns to Sunrise after originally being traded to the team by the Carolina Hurricanes at last year’s deadline, and then departing in the offseason to sign a one-year deal with Chicago after he was not qualified. In 16 games played with the Blackhawks this season, he has produced 3 assists. He put up a goal and an assist in his seven games with Florida last season.

Carlsson, 23, has one assist in 12 games with the Blackhawks this season and one goal and and two assists in seven games with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. A fourth-round pick of the Blackhawks in 2016, like Wallmark, he is also scheduled for restricted free agency at season’s end.

The key to this deal for the Panthers seems to be disposing of the final two years of Connolly’s $3.5 million cap hit. After a great start to the 2019-20 season, Connolly has just two goals and four points in 21 games with the Cats this season. The 28-year-old finished with 19 goals and 33 points in 69 games last season.

Stillman, 23, is without a point in eight NHL games this season. A fourth-round selection by former GM Dale Tallon in 2015, he currently carries a cap hit of $773,333 and will become a restricted free agent this off-season.

The inclusion of the 23-year-old Borgstrom, Florida’s first round pick in 2016, will certainly stir some waves among the fan base. A former college phenom at the University of Denver, Borgstrom has spent this season toiling with HIFK in Finland’s Liiga, where he has collected 11 goals and 19 points in 27 games.

Borgstrom leaves the Panthers organization with 8 goals and 10 assists to his credit, in 54 games played.

Let’s not be too hasty to judge this trade as a standalone piece. Bill Zito is likely to have something else cooking.