Riley Stillman agrees to 3-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks — joining their core of young defensemen

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Phil Thompson, Chicago Tribune
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Defenseman Riley Stillman reached terms with the Chicago Blackhawks on a three-year contract that runs through 2023-24.

“It’s really exciting,” Stillman said. “I was happy to come in and be given an opportunity here.

“To get this done and out of the way gives myself an opportunity to just focus on the team and getting into the playoffs and doing everything we can in this stretch here coming down to the end of the year.”

The deal carries a $1.35 million annual salary cap hit, and he’ll be restricted free agent in 2024-25.

“Having a young, physical defenseman like Riley in the fold is exciting for the future of our team,” said Stan Bowman, president of hockey operations and general manager, in a statement. “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.”

Stillman, 23, has played six games for the Hawks since he was acquired in a trade with the Florida Panthers, when they also netted Brett Connolly and Henrik Borgstrom, and sent Lucas Wallmark and Lucas Carlsson to Florida.

So far for the Hawks, Stillman has 16 hits and eight blocked shots in 16:43 minutes per game. He has a minus-1 rating and 2 penalty minutes.

He explained his motivation to get a deal done.

“From what I’ve seen here the last two weeks, I love the city of Chicago, the organization all the way through is top notch and I’m really excited to be here. So, I wanted to get that done, get it behind me and just focus on the team.”

Stillman joins a young core of blueliners that is filled with potential but inconsistency. The Hawks have been developing Adam Boqvist, though his progress this season was interrupted by stints in the COVID-19 and concussion protocols. He often has been paired with another young defender, Nikita Zadorov.

The team also has rotated between Wyatt Kalynuk, Ian Mitchell and Nicolas Beaudin to get them experience — or when injuries have opened up opportunities.

“We have a young group,” Stillman said. “Obviously we have some young defensemen like Boqy, Z’s pretty young and Beaudy on the way up and Wyatt and Mitchy.

“So, to come into a young group and have an opportunity to grow and develop and get better alongside those guys, especially on the back end, is really exciting to see what this team and we can do in the future.”