Good morning, Chicago Blackhawks fans, and welcome to a Western Conference finals kick-off edition of the morning links
Thankfully for Chicago Blackhawks fans who can’t bring themselves to be interested in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, there was some news surrounding the team. Forward Richard Panik signed a two-year extension Thursday, coming in at a cap hit of $2.8 million per season.
Of course, this leaves a lot of questions for the Blackhawks and their fans heading toward the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft, set to take place June 21. The Blackhawks are smashing up against the salary cap ceiling once again, regardless of whether it stays at $73 million this offseason or rises to $75 million or more, as suggested by various outlets.
We explored Thursday the options for general manager Stan Bowman as far as getting through the expansion draft and trying to decide who he might dump this offseason. There are certainly some tough decisions to be made.
More on the re-signing of Panik
But little will actually be said about Panik earning a nice pay raise this offseason. Last season, he came in at a cap hit of $875,000. He can add about $2 million to that the next two seasons on the back of an impressive 2016-17 campaign.
It started when he opened the season with six goals in six games, including a hat trick against Nashville on Oct. 15 (where was that in the postseason?). While Panik certainly cooled off after that, going 13 games without a point between Nov. 3 and Nov. 26, he still posted a personally successful campaign.
After floating around in the Tampa Bay and Toronto systems, eventually getting plucked from the AHL’s Toronto Marlies by Chicago in 2016, Panik busted out this season to the tune of 44 points evenly distributed among goals and assists. He netted 35 of those points at even strength and proved to be a solid enough left wing option for Jonathan Toews on the left side.
That was a really important factor in Bowman deciding to re-up Panik, I’m sure. Toews started to get vocally upset about not having a true left wing after Andrew Shaw‘s trade in the 2016 offseason. Panik calmed that a bit, and gave the Blackhawks a pretty dependable complementary scoring forward in the process.
Of course, once the expansion draft rolls around, we’ll all have to wring our hands and bite our fingernails as we learn what another sizeable contract will cost the Blackhawks. The life of a team living in the salary cap era with multiple massive contracts on the books.
Let’s get on to some Chicago Blackhawks morning links.
Chicago Blackhawks morning links
— More from the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus on Panik’s re-signing. Chicago Sun-Times
— Do you want to be sad? No? Don’t read this. Chicago Tribune
— Players sneaking into South Korea wearing mustaches? CBC Sports