Without Panarin, where are the Blackhawks this year?
Piggy-backing off of the importance of Panarin to the production of Kane, the Blackhawks more than likely wouldn’t be where they are currently without the play of Kane and Panarin this season. If Kane doesn’t have the best season of his career while feeding off of the play of Panarin, the Blackhawks could be looking at a wild-card playoff spot, or worse.
Since the 12-game winning streak that spanned from Dec. 29 to Jan. 19, the Blackhawks have been 14-13-3 and slipped from first place in the Western Conference to third place in the Central Division and more than likely playing on the road in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Look at the other top rookies who are vying for the Calder Trophy and where their teams are with them and where they would be without them:
- Eichel has Buffalo third from the bottom of the Eastern Conference, and without him they would more than likely be at the same spot or worse.
- Domi has Arizona fourth in the Pacific Division, but far from a playoff spot and in the bottom third of the league, which is probably the best-case scenario for Arizona this year.
- Larkin is playing with a very experienced and talented Red Wings team, but the group is fighting for its playoff life in the Eastern Conference and hasn’t locked up a spot in the postseason yet with just a few regular-season games left to play. Without Larkin, Detroit may be further from a playoff spot or eliminated by now, but with him they are still clawing away.
- For McDavid in Edmonton, they are tied for dead last in the league with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are in full rebuild mode. Edmonton was supposed to contend in the Western Conference after having what seems like the last 10 first-overall picks in the NHL draft, but with and without McDavid this year, Edmonton is still at the bottom of the NHL barrel.
For the Blackhawks to be still considered a top contender for the Stanley Cup and be in the playoffs again this year, they needed Panarin.
Next: A Rookie In The NHL Sense