The timing is beneficial to the Blackhawks
The fact that Panarin’s camp has put forth contract expectations before the 2016-2017 season even began is a good thing.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I interpret this move as a sign that Panarin wants to remain in Chicago, and therefore wants to give Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman plenty of time to get his priorities and balance sheet in order to make it possible. Panarin is also putting pressure on himself to stand and deliver this season, to give his side more leverage at the negotiating table.
Further, Panarin has to be aware that a sophomore slump or an injury-plagued season would substantially weaken his argument that he’s worth half-a-dozen mil a year. Even if Panarin has a record-setting year, he’d still be tethered to his initial asking price in some capacity.
In other words, Bowman gets plenty of time to think it over, and the Blackhawks get a very motivated Bread Man skating for them each game.
Artemi Panarin’s a better deal than Brandon Saad
Not too long ago, my esteemed Blackhawk Up colleague Colin Likas astutely pointed out the striking similarities between Panarin’s contract demands and those of Brandon Saad.’
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Given that Saad’s asking price of $6M a year was met by the Blackhawks’ with a polite “no thank you,” it is certainly feasible Panarin, an equally young and promising forward at the genesis of his career, may meet the same response. While there are certainly some congruences at first glance, closer examination reveals a few more X-factors coloring the Bread Man’s situation.
Going by statistics alone, Panarin is dramatically better than Saad. In their first full seasons in the NHL, Panarin put up 77 points, compared to Saad’s 47 (Saad has averaged just over 50 points per season since).
Granted Saad has the experience of two successful Stanley Cup runs, but Panarin showed almost immediately his ability to bring out the best in Patrick Kane, on whom the Blackhawks have staked a substantial percentage of their future success.
There is always the chance of Panarin’s output during his rookie year being a fluke, but thus far this season, he seems to be picking up right where he left off with frequent line partners Kane and Artem Anisimov. Saad certainly proved he is capable of playing on the top line with a top team, but he didn’t form as productive a bond (not saying he wouldn’t have ever) with the likes of Marian Hossa or Jonathan Toews.
Thus, when compared to Saad’s near-identical contract demands, given his statistical and intangible superiority, Panarin’s request for $6 million a year emerges as the better deal.