BLACKHAWKS HIDDEN FIND: RICHARD PANIK

Remember how most of us thought that the Jeremy Morin for Richard Panik trade was just a trade between two struggling prospects who could not live up to the expectations that got them drafted in the second round in their draft years? Yea, I was one of them. However, most of us were proven wrong by wizard Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman!

Since January 3rd, 2016, when the trade swap happened, Panik has been nothing but productive and effective. He has been a sparkplug to the Blackhawks lineup at times by scoring the big goal when the team needed it the most. He has had the most success playing on a line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa in 2016 and with Toews and Nick Schmaltz on the first line this year. He collected 22 goals and 22 assists for 44 points this season, of which 9 points were on the power play. In 112 games since being acquired, Panik has amassed 28 goals and 24 assists for 52 points.

Panik has always been a scorer in his junior days, with the Windsor Spitfires and Belleville Bulls. I remember him scoring plenty of goals for his Native Slovakian National Junior Hockey Team and he was arguably the best player on his team. He displayed his quick release and went hard to the net to bury rebounds.

One of the reasons why the young Slovakian has been successful with the Blackhawks is because of his big body stature and his ability to go the net and create havoc for goaltenders. The Blackhawks currently do not have many players that can go to the net consistently as Panik, ever since they traded Andrew Shaw to Montreal. Panik’s game becomes an asset on the power play because of his multi-dimensional game. He can move the puck around well, has a quick release that often beat goaltenders and can finish rebounds. He has averaged 1:42 seconds of power play time on ice.

Panik just recently signed a two-year extension that will keep him in Chicago worth $5.6 million, an AAV of $2.8 million a season. With the expansion draft already been completed on Wednesday night, the Las Vegas Golden Knights selected Trevor van Riemsdyk from the Blackhawks, as Panik was one of the forwards protected by the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks could not afford to lose Panik as he was a vital all around player that gives it his all most nights.

In the next two years, we should see plenty of production from Panik and it should be interesting to see if he can reach his new benchmark in goals and points next year. And now with winger Marian Hossa missing the entire 2017-2018 regular season with serious allergies to medication for treating a skin condition, Panik has a great opportunity to  take even a bigger role with the Blackhawks next season.

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