May 17, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (65) is held back by Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen (45), center Rickard Rakell (67) and left wing Jiri Sekac (46) during the third period in game one of the Western Conference Final of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
While the focus of North America is on the NHL Eastern and Western Conference finals. Some people have not overlooked the World Championships. The Chicago Blackhawks fans are firmly focused on the Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks. The focus for the Blackhawks faithful is on the present. I am focused on the present but also have one eye focused on the future and the future looks bright. In case you missed it, the Blackhawks signed another top prospect. On April 29th the Blackhawks signed KHL standout Artemi Panarin to a two year entry level NHL contract. The belief is that he will not spend any time in Rockford but join the Blackhawks immediately. Panarin contract almost guarantees he will make the Blackhawks next season. He has an opt-out clause, if he does not make the team.
The clause will not be the reason Panarin makes the team, his play on the ice will. Panarin lead SKA Petersburg with 62 points and add 20 in the playoffs. Some have referred to Panarin as the “Russian Patrick Kane”. Blackhawks General Manger Stan Bowman has stated that Panarin was not signed to play in the minor leagues. This past week Panarin has been adding to impressive resume. At World Championships, Panarin made waves with his play and his mouth. In ten games, he recorded five goals and 10 points in 10 games. Panarin made headlines with his mouth before the semi-final matchup with the Blackhawks. Panarin said “We’re in a fighting mood to play the Americans”. “We need to teach those college kids a lesson.” Russia spanked the USA 4-0 in that game. Panarin was also named one of the most valuable players for Team Russia in the tournament.
Panarin appears to be ready to compete at the NHL level. The Blackhawks might still have to work on his maturation process with Panarin. Panarin along with fellow Russian players left the ice during the Canadian National Anthem following their loss to Canada. Fines will levied against the Russian players that left the ice early.Blackhawks fans should full expect Panarin to join the Blackhawks core next season after some re-tooling this off season.While the everyone in the Blackhawks fan base is focused on the present, it is always good to look toward the future.
The Chicago Blackhawks face the Anaheim Ducks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final on Tuesday May 19th at 8:00pm central time.