Sports: Blackhawks place former first-rounders Brett Connolly, Henrik Borgstrom on waivers

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The Chicago Blackhawks have started the buyout process for two players, placing Henrik Borgstrom and Brett Connolly on unconditional waivers. Because he is under the age of 25, the team will only be on the hook for one-third of Borgstrom’s remaining salary. As a result, it will receive the following cap penalties moving forward:

Henrik Borgstrom is on waivers. © Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Henrik Borgstrom is on waivers.
  • 2022-23: $1,166,667 (Connolly) + $83,334 (Borgstrom)
  • 2023-24: $1,166,667 (Connolly) + $183,334 (Borgstrom)

The two forwards actually arrived in Chicago the same way, through a trade with the Florida Panthers in 2021 that saw Lucas Wallmark and Lucas Carlsson go the other way. While Riley Stillman remains from that deal, it was Borgstrom that was considered a big part of the return, having been a first-round pick by the Panthers in 2016.

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After just 52 games with Chicago he’ll hit the market as an unrestricted free agent, an interesting addition just before things open up on Wednesday. While he has just 26 points in 110 games, Borgstrom is still just 24 (he’ll turn 25 next month) and possesses an interesting skill/size mix that could intrigue some teams.

Connolly meanwhile has a much longer track record at the NHL level but not a very good one the last few years. He scored 19 goals and 33 points in 2019-20 but then was an absolute ghost during the 2020-21 season, registering just six points in 31 total games. This season, he spent most of the year at the minor league level with the Rockford IceHogs, and although he performed well there, it’s not much of a platform for a free agent deal.

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These buyouts continue general manager Kyle Davidson’s rapid house cleaning and represent another head-scratching move for the young executive. Borgstrom’s contract, which had just one year left on it and carried a cap hit of $1M, could have been buried entirely in the minor leagues. This buyout will save them around $733K in actual dollars but now actually has a slightly negative effect on the cap situation.

In fact, it wouldn’t be entirely unreasonable to see a team claim Borgstrom before the buyout can be finalized Tuesday given how little risk would be involved.

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