With Friday’s loss likely closing the book on the competitive portion of the 2021 season, the Blackhawks made a move on Sunday morning with an eye to the future, announcing a 3-year contract extension for defenseman Riley Stillman that’s worth $1.35 million annually ($4.05 million total).
Stillman was originally a fourth-round pick (114th overall) of the Panthers in the 2016 NHL Draft. Stillman made NHL debut three years later and played 43 games with Florida spread across three seasons, tallying five assists while averaging 17:23 of ice time per night.
He came to the Blackhawks on April 8 along with a 2021 seventh-round pick, Henrik Borgstrom and Brett Connolly in exchange for Lucas Carlsson and Lucas Wallmark. Stillman has played in Chicago’s last six games with no points and an average TOI of 16:43.
Based on the comments below from general manager Stan Bowman, the Hawks believe there is more to come from Stillman, who turned 23 on March 9:
"He is growing into an excellent all-around defenseman and that continued development is something we look forward to seeing firsthand."— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) April 25, 2021
–#Blackhawks President of Hockey Ops and GM Stan Bowman on Riley Stillman's contract extension. pic.twitter.com/w6VHvmL9gB
[UPDATE] Stillman met with the media shortly after signing the deal to share his thoughts:
Riley Stillman: "To come into an organization that believes in me and wants me to be here it does nothing for me other than have myself and my mentality give everything that I can to this team and this organization." #Blackhawks— Brandon Cain (@brandonmcain) April 25, 2021
With this move, the Blackhawks now have eight defensemen under contract for next season:
- Duncan Keith
- Calvin de Haan
- Connor Murphy
- Wyatt Kalynuk
- Adam Boqvist
- Nicolas Beaudin
- Ian Mitchell
And then there’s Nikita Zadorov, who’s on a $3.2 million salary cap hit this season and becomes a restricted free agent in the summer. At the very least, the re-signing of Stillman to a long-term contract — given the overlap in the styles of play between Stillman and Zadorov — raises questions about Zadorov’s long-term status with the team.