The Chicago Blackhawks announced early this morning that they have inked Riley Stillman to a three-year, $4.05MM contract extension ($1.35MM AAV). The defenseman was acquired at the trade deadline from Florida and was to be a restricted free-agent this summer.
“Having a young, physical defenseman like Riley in the fold is exciting for the future of our team,” said Blackhawks President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Stan Bowman. “He is growing into an excellent all-around defenseman and that continued development is something we look forward to seeing firsthand. We love his size, and his toughness adds another piece to our defense.”
While many considered Stillman to be a throw-in to the deal in which the Blackhawks took on the contract of Brett Connolly from the Panthers along with Lucas Wallmark and acquiring the rights to Henrik Borgstrom for Lucas Carlsson, Stillman has been impressive in Chicago in his short stay so far. The blueliner has only appeared in six games for the Blackhawks, but has been impressive defensively with 16 hits and eight blocks so far. He is also very good on the penalty kill and at $1.35MM for the next three years, presents the team with a solid depth option for the future. Of course, offense is not his strength as the 23-year-old has no goals and just five assists in 49 career NHL games.
In fact, it appears that the signing of the defensive-minded Stillman, the son of former NHLer Cory Stillman, could signal the end for soon-to-be restricted free-agent Nikita Zadorov, who could be too expensive for the team to retain.
Stillman was a fourth-round pick in 2016 of the Panthers, and looked like he was starting to break through Florida’s lineup last year after appearing in 34 games. However, he fell out of favor with head coach Joel Quenneville as he appeared in just eight games with the Panthers this year before he was traded.