REPORT: Panik Expected To Re-Sign With Chicago
When the Chicago Blackhawks made a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs in January and acquired Richard Panik for Jeremy Morin, it was a swap of two AHL players trying to make big enough impacts to get NHL gigs. For Morin, he was never going to break through the Blackhawks’ forward ranks enough to get that chance, and for Panik, it was a second chance to show that he could perform on the biggest stage after failing to crack the Maple Leafs roster in 2015-16 after 76 games and 17 points (11 goals, 6 assists) in 2014-15.
When the season finished, Panik had played in 30 games for Chicago and Morin was traded a second time to the San Jose Sharks organization but didn’t play in the NHL. Chicago was able to get the better end of the trade back in January, and now it looks like they may have found an underrated gem for the near future.
According to a report by Scott Powers, Panik and the Blackhawks expect to come to terms on a new contract when the NHL free agency period begins. General Manager Stan Bowman has stated, “We’ve had discussions, and I don’t think the contract is going to be a challenge. I think we’re going to get that worked out. I think he’s going to be a part of it. We’re looking for him to take that next step in his career.”
Bowman added, “We’re going to need players like him to come and really take the next step and play even a bigger role. I look at what he’s done, and I think he can build on that. I think there’s more to that. I know he felt comfortable in the situation and in the role that he had at the end. I think he’s wanting to build on that. We need some of that next year. We need guys like Richard to take that next step and really assert themselves. I know he wants to do that. I think the opportunity is there for him to seize it.”
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Cheap Contract And Versatility Benefit Panik, Blackhawks
Panik was utilized in a multitude of different roles for the Blackhawks in his short time with the team last season. Panik, whose natural position is on the right wing, played on both sides of the ice at different times and was expected to produce in different roles ranging from the fourth-line to the top-line combination, playing with Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Andrew Ladd at different times through the regular season and playoffs.
When the NHL free agency period begins, Panik will be a restricted free agent and will be coming off of his one-year, $975,000 contract he signed with Toronto. It isn’t expected that Panik will get much of, if any kind of raise this offseason, but with the Blackhawks again up against the salary cap, any type of cap-friendly deal for a player as versatile as Panik is a welcomed addition.