Blackhawks acquire Corey Perry from Lightning, adding more experience to Bedard-led rebuild

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Chicago Blackhawks continued surrounding their youth-laden and Connor Bedard-headed rebuild with yet another experienced veteran by acquiring forward Corey Perry in a trade with Tampa Bay on Thursday.

The Blackhawks gave up a seventh-round pick in next year’s draft to acquire the 18-year player with the belief they can sign Perry, who is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on Saturday. General manager Kyle Davidson sounded confident of being able to sign Perry to a deal after initial talks.

He also made clear that Perry and veteran forwards Taylor Hall, who was acquired via trade Monday with Nick Foligno on an expiring contract, bring experience needed to bridge the transition from captain Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to the next stage of Chicago's rebuilding process.

“There’s runway to be those leaders and work alongside them rather than just have Jonathan and Patrick there who would be the leaders unquestioned, no doubt about it," Davidson said. “And there there would be somewhat of a roadblock there in terms of leadership development.”

Now Davidson hopes Perry and Foligno can be resources helping build a new culture inside the Chicago locker room. Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson also was with Perry in Montreal and saw him work with the Canadiens' young players.

“He really appreciated that, saw a great benefit in what Corey did, and so we’re going to try and extract some of that benefit as well,” Davidson said.

The 38-year-old Perry joins his fourth team in five years after spending his first 14 seasons with the Anaheim Ducks. He won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007 and has reached the Cup Final three times in the past four years, and lost each time with Dallas (2020), Montreal (2021) and Tampa Bay (2022).

Perry was the NHL’s scoring leader with 50 goals in 2010-11, and is still productive offensively despite playing more of a secondary role in his latter years. He combined for 31 goals and 65 points in 163 games over the past two seasons in Tampa Bay.

The trade was completed during the second day of the NHL draft being held in Nashville, Tennessee, where the Blackhawks opened by selecting Bedard with the No. 1 pick. The 17-year-old from North Vancouver, British Columbia, is regarded as a generational talent and drawn comparisons to Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid.

Earlier Thursday, Chicago acquired forward Josh Bailey and a 2026 second-round pick from the New York Islanders in exchange for future considerations. Bailey had eight goals and 25 assists in 64 games this past season. The Islanders will clear $5 million in cap space, moving the 15-year veteran who was their longest tenured player last season.

Davidson said Bailey was put on unconditional waivers, giving him a chance to find a good fit.

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