Morning Forecheck: Blackhawks Land Borgstrom, Pearson Contract, Devils' Youngsters

Photo Credit: Michael Reeves/Getty Images

 Welcome to the Morning Forecheck! Where we go over all the latest news and notes going around the NHL. Subscribe to the site at the link above for more updates and follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy.

Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers Make a Trade

With the trade deadline coming up on Monday, the Panthers made a deal to clear up some cap space, opening the door for potentially another deal.

The Blackhawks acquired Brett Connolly, Riley Stillman, Henrik Borgstrom, and a 2021 seventh round draft pick in exchange for Lucas Wallmark and Lucas Carlsson.

It was a cap clearing move for Florida, who had to part ways with Borgstrom - once one of their prized prospects. In two years at the University of Denver, the now 23 year old Borgstrom recorded 99 points (45 G, 50 A) in 77 games.

He has struggled to establish himself at the NHL level, recording just 19 points (9 G, 11 A) in 58 NHL games. Borgstrom is currently playing in the SM-Liiga in Finland where he has 11 goals (19 points) in 27 games.

Connolly was a former top ten pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning who never really emerged as a top-six winger. He's been a good depth scorer, topping 20 goals once in his career - his contract year with the Washington Capitals. He recorded 33 points (19 goals) in 69 games last year with the Panthers but has struggled this season (four points in 21 games).

Florida now has $3.677 million in cap space, according to cap friendly. They also have $16.407 million in deadline cap space, meaning they can be one of the biggest players come Monday as they look to solidify their blue line after losing Aaron Ekblad for the season.

For Chicago, they took on Connolly's contract and now have a veteran goal scorer to add to their young team, but the prize of the trade is Borgstrom. This isn't the first time the Blackhawks have taken on young players who had yet to reach their potential - Alexander Nylander and Dylan Strome among the bigger names.

Chicago seams every bit confident that they'll make Borgstrom the next on that list.

Tanner Pearson Gets New Deal

Some good news coming out of Vancouver as the team endures a COVID-19 outbreak that has over 20 players on the protocol list.

A pending free agent, the Canucks and Pearson agreed to a three-year $9.75 million contract to keep the winger in Vancouver.

A Stanley Cup winner with the team that originally drafted him, the Los Angeles Kings, Pearson was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Carl Hagelin. After recording just 14 points (9 goals) and never really fitting into Pittsburgh's lineup, he was traded to the Canucks for Erik Gudbranson.

All of that was in a single season two years ago.

Pearson flourished last year with the Canucks, recording 45 points (21 G, 24 A) in 69 games played.

Devils Youngster Take Control In Win Over Buffalo

You feel like the New Jersey Devils are just a year, maybe two away from truly competing. They have found their franchise goaltender in MacKenzie Blackwood, and have plenty of other young players finding their way this season.

After trading two fo their most seasoned veterans in Kyle Palmieri and Captain Travis Zajac, it opened up more opportunities for some of the younger players to get some serious playing time.

They answered the call in their 6-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres Thursday night. 

Jack Hughes (19 years old) recorded a goal and two assists in the victory. The former first overall pick from a year ago had a forgettable rookie season, but has made up for it this year. He is one point away from tying his season total from last year, and has already scored more goals than he did in 2019-2020.

Pavel Zacha (24 years old) was another former first round pick of the Devils, and is on pace for the best point output of his career. Used mostly as a bottom-six forward in defensive positions in previous years, Zacha should have no problem besting his previous high of 13 goals after finding the back of the net twice last night.

A second round pick in 2017, Jesper Boqvist scored his first goal of the season, and has five overall in 46 career games now.

Yegor Sharangovich was just a fifth round pick in 2018, but the 22-year old has come up big throughout the season for the Devils. After a successful tour in the KHL before the season started that saw him score 17 goals in 34 games, Sharangovich has carried that to the NHL.

The rookie has scored 16 points (9 G, 7 A) in 36 games this season.

Acquired in the deal for Sami Vatanen, Janne Kuokkanen has 19 points in 33 games after scoring his sixth goal of the season on Thursday.

He didn't find the back of the net, but when you are talking about the young players on the Devils this year, you can't leave out former first round pick Ty Smith. He quickly emerged as one of the Devils best defensemen, and he also recorded two assists while playing over 21 minutes last night.

What to Watch For: April 9

The same Devils team look for consecutive wins on back-to-back nights as they play the resurgent Penguins. Late at night, the Colorado Avalanche look to keep the momentum going and get back on the winning side of things.

They have points in nine of their last ten games (seven wins) but lost their last game.


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