Chicago Blackhawks Are to Sign KHL Star Artemi Panarin

By Sean Fitzgerald

Jun 27, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman announces Nick Schmaltz (not pictured) as the number twenty overall pick to the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

In the last several weeks the Blackhawks have been very busy adding to their young talent pool. They have added several college free agents in Kyle Baun and Tanner Kero. In case this was missed Kero is a forward from Michigan Tech. He recorded 22 goals and 26 assists in the Western College Hockey Association. He was a top ten finalist for the Hobey Baker. He signed a two year tryout contract with the Blackhawks

With Baun and Kero in the fold, the Blackhawks front office is not done yet. Reports have broken the Chicago Blackhawks are the favorite to sign Artemi Panarin. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman broke the story. Friedman says Chicago has the edge over the Calgary Flames, the Montreal Canadiens, and the Toronto Maple Leafs.Panarin is currently a star in the KHL.

He first burst onto the international scene when he scored the game winning goal in the 2011 World Junior Final for Russia. Russia defeated Canada in that game for the gold medal. Panarin joined SKA St. Petersburg in 2013 and became an All-Star in 2014-15. He led the team with 62 points and added 20 points in the playoffs. SKA went onto to win the Gagarin Cup which is the KHL championship trophy. SKA also features former NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk and Panarin still was their leading scorer.

The 23-year-old has 183 points in 263 KHL contests. He has scored at least 20 goals in the last two seasons. The transition to the NHL game could be tough for Panarin who is 5-foot-11 and 159 lbs. His height might not be his biggest issue; his weight will need to increase.

If the Blackhawks sign Panarin expect him to spend most of the year in Rockford to adjust to the North American style of play. The NHL is a more physical game than the KHL. The Blackhawks have been very careful with young European prospects. They handled the Teuvo Teravainen situation the same way. He will join Ryan Hartman, Phillip Danault, and other promising young Blackhawks forwards.

Panarin is not the only KHL star that will be joining the Central Division. Earlier this month the Nashville Predators signed Steve Moses. Steve Moses was the scoring leader in the KHL last season. He recorded 36 goals in 60 games. Now Moses unlike Panarin is not a native Russian. Moses played four years at the University of New Hampshire. He is 25 years old and just 5-foot-9 and 172 lbs.

The Central Division is going to an infusion of KHL scorers next season. Let’s hope the Blackhawks player pans out better.

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