A relatively minor trade was announced during the Chicago Blackhawks’ win against the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night, as the Blackhawks sent Jeremy Morin to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Richard Panik. It was a move of forwards who have been in the AHL during the 2015-16 season, so it wasn’t one to create many shockwaves.
Still, this move serves an important purpose for the Chicago Blackhawks. Morin was very unlikely to get a shot with the Blackhawks again despite being a surprising part of the trade that sent Brandon Saad to Columbus in the offseason. Joel Quenneville is not a Morin fan, and the Blackhawks were glad to go with the likes of Bryan Bickell and Brandon Mashinter on the left side over Morin.
While Panik is not a left wing, he is still a wing. He’s also a young guy at 24 years old (his 25th birthday is in about a month), and he’s the kind of guy Quenneville would like to utilize as a third- or fourth-line winger. In 32 games with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies this season, Panik has tallied eight goals, 16 assists and 30 penalty minutes. He actually scored the game-winning goal in a game for the Marlies right before he was moved. And in 151 NHL regular-season games, Panik has 19 goals, 20 assists and 74 penalty minutes.
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Basically, he’s a grittier guy who can hopefully provide some secondary scoring while also being defensively trustworthy with bottom-six minutes. He has some experience with that, collecting a 52.39 Corsi-for percentage in all situations during a 25-game run with Tampa Bay in 2013 while boasting a negative-6.32 relative zone starts percentage — meaning he carried the puck more often than not despite starting more of his shifts on defense. He hasn’t lived up to those stats since, but they haven’t totally fallen off a cliff, either. So Panik is someone Q can work with.
Besides, when you look at some of the guys the Blackhawks currently have on their bottom-six wings, Ryan Garbutt has been seeing fewer minutes of late, Bickell hasn’t done much since his return from the AHL and Mashinter is becoming a frequent healthy scratch while playing five or six minutes a night when he actually hits the ice.
The message is clear here: The Blackhawks are more than willing to go a different direction to find some production among the bottom six. Mashinter could easily be sent back to the AHL, and one of Garbutt or Bickell — if not both on a rotating basis — could be scratched to give Panik a look.
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Basically, the Blackhawks moved a guy who probably wasn’t going to see NHL ice in Chicago for a player they can slot in to provide more bottom-six 5-0n-5 scoring. Whether or not that comes to fruition is another matter entirely, but Stan Bowman wasn’t losing much in an effort to give him team a bit of an offensive kick. Even if Panik turns out to be a bust while playing with the Blackhawks, he can be a leader for the Rockford IceHogs.
What do you think of this deal? Let us know in the comments section.