Why Chicago Blackhawks Should Re-Sign Richard Panik
It is really no surprise the Chicago Blackhawks are going to be a bit squeezed for money and cap room in the upcoming years. It also does not help that the NHL salary cap will likely go down about $2 or $3 million. With players like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews signed to astronomical deals, General Manager Stan Bowman will need to look for players who can play specific roles, while not costing too much as well.
I present to you the case of Richard Panik. He was one of my favorite players toward the end of the 2015-16 season and into the Stanley Cup Playoffs as well.
Richard Panik is a 6-foot-2, 208-pound winger from Slovakia. With him being 25 years old, he still has some time to hone his craft, and to become a very formidable offensive player for the Blackhawks. At the end of this season, he will be a restricted free agent with the ‘Hawks.
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All that means is the ‘Hawks get to talk with Panik before any other teams. They either offer him a one-year deal to stay, or the ‘Hawks can just give him an entirely new contract. With Panik only having one complete season up at the NHL level — 2014-15 season with the Toronto Maple Leafs — he is the player who fits perfectly with the one-year qualifying offer.
Since Panik’s cap hit was $975,000 last season, the one-year qualifying offer would be worth just over $1 million next season. If he is given just a one-year contract, the front office has a complete season to evaluate Panik’s talent.
Panik was sent over to Chicago last season from Toronto. He was involved in a trade that sent Jeremy Morin to the Leafs back on January 3 of this year. Since coming over to the West Side of Chicago, Panik has tallied six goals and two assists in 30 games. He also had a plus/minus rating of plus-4, a possession metric right around 50 percent and 54 hits.
In his six playoff games against the St. Louis Blues this year, Panik had three assists and 23 hits. In my opinion, he was the Blackhawks’ MVP in the last three games of that series as well.
Here is why the ‘Hawks need to send a qualifying offer to Panik this offseason. With the ‘Hawks probably not re-signing Andrew Shaw, Panik could be a good fit to take his spot up on the first line. Much like during the playoff series against the Blues, a first line of Panik-Toews-Teuvo Teravainen could be one of the most formidable lines in the league.
Panik can bring the hits for the first line and stand up for Toews when teams decide to bully him. Along with the hits he can contribute to the first line, he can be the gritty player to stand in front of the net and open up ice for the skill players of Toews and Teravainen. This also allows the ‘Hawks to not get in negotiations with Shaw, who probably wants an insane amount of money from the organization.
Panik might even be the player to re-take the nickname of “The Rat” from ex-Hawk Dave Bolland. If he could be the player to fight for possession and stand in front of the net, that could finally give Teravainen the opportunity to excel his game and give him something he has never had while on the ‘Hawks: consistency.
Let’s say that Panik does not fit well in the front of the net. Well, then he can be dropped down to the third line along with Marcus Kruger and Marian Hossa. There he can be the skilled player of the line and be a play finisher.
I believe one of these two options will come true if the Blackhawks decide to send a qualifying offer to Panik. He is a 25-year-old who just fits well with the players that are currently on the Blackhawks roster. And with the price tag right around $1 million, he could be the best bang for the team’s buck. If I’m Bowman, I am sending a qualifying offer to Panik the absolute first day I can.