Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks: 5 Reasons Panarin Is Top Rookie

By Mario Tirabassi
Mar 29, 2016; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin (72) shoots during the first period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 29, 2016; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin (72) shoots during the first period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dec 17, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Matt Hendricks (23) battles for the puck with Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) during the first period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

Like it or not, Panarin is a rookie

Finally, we get to the issue that seems the stick in everyone’s craw about the Calder Trophy race this year and the fact that Panarin is the front-runner. He is a 24-year-old rookie. Yes, Panarin had 263 career KHL games under his belt, playing at the Russian Pro level since he was 18 years old before he got to Chicago. But that isn’t a factor into the experience level he had coming into the NHL.

Many have argued the talent level in the KHL isn’t even on par to that of the AHL, the NHL’s minor-league system in which, if a player plays upwards of five, six or seven seasons in the AHL and makes his NHL debut at the age of 29, he is still an NHL rookie.

For reference:

  • In 1990, Sergei Makarov won the NHL Rookie of the Year award at the ripe young age of 31.
  • In 1991, Ed Belfour won the NHL Rookie of the Year award at the age of 25 with the Blackhawks.
  • In 2001, Evgeni Nabokov won the NHL Rookie of the Year award as a 25-year-old goalie.
  • In 2003, Andrew Raycroft won the NHL Rookie of the Year award at the age of 23.
  • And, for what is it worth, in 2001, Ichiro Suzuki won both the MLB Rookie of the Year award and the league MVP award as a 27-year-old rookie with the Mariners.

Point being, the rules state that when a player plays his first full season in the major league of the sport — be it the NHL, NFL, NBA or MLB — that constitutes his rookie season. Panarin is a rookie in the NHL and has had the best season of any rookie in the league, deserving of the Calder Trophy for the 2015-16 season.

What do you think? Is Artemi Panarin deserving of the NHL’s Rookie of the Year award this season? If not, who would you give your vote to and why? Let us know in the comments section!

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