Sophomore stud Artemi Panarin proved he is a crucial part of the Chicago Blackhawks. His statistics from his rookie season weren’t just a fluke. He’s kind of a big deal.
At the end of last season, a lot of people in the NHL community thought Artemi Panarin would fall off a bit. Analysts believed his Calder Trophy-winning season only occurred because his linemate, Patrick Kane, was off the charts. There was no way Panarin could keep performing the way he did in 2015-16 for the Chicago Blackhawks.
However, he proved most people wrong. Once again, his line stayed together throughout the majority of the year, and thrived while doing so. He was one of three players on the Blackhawks to skate in all 82 games. While he didn’t surpass his point total from his rookie season, the Bread Man was still second on the team in scoring for two years in a row.
2016-17 regular-season statistics: 82 games, 31 goals, 43 assists, 74 points, plus-18 rating, 55.1 Corsi-for (even strength)
2016-17 playoffs statistics: 4 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, minus-4 rating, 56.3 Corsi-for (even strength)
Comparison to last year
While he scored only three fewer points this season (74) than last season (77), Panarin showed signs that he’s on his was to developing into more of a complete player overall. His Corsi-for improved by 3.1 percent in all situations, increasing from 57.7 to 60.8. He shot the puck more this season as well, even though it seemed like he was constantly looking to pass instead of shoot.
It’s kind of difficult to compare the two season Panarin has had so far when they’ve been equivalent in so many aspects. His goals per 60 in all situations stayed the same (1.2). His points per 60 at even strength also remained the same (2.5). He only scored one more goal than he did last season, with four fewer assists.
The one area that was drastically different from last season was Panarin’s play with the man advantage. In his first season, he has 16 powerplay assists. This past season, he only had eight assists. His goals per 60 on the power played remained the same (2.1), but his assists per 60 decreased from 4.5 to 1.8. His points per 60 also took a big hit, going from 6.6 to 3.9. He had more attempted shots, but only one more goal (9) than in his rookie year (8).
As we can see, Panarin is a fantastic player in so many different scenarios. He’ll turn 26 years old in the first month of his third season, so he has plenty of time to still grow and establish himself as one of the elite players in the National Hockey League. Even though he’s still up there as one of the best, Panarin has room to improve to evolve.
Once again, Panarin was second on the team in goals (31) and points (74) behind Kane. The two of them are one of the most dynamics duos in the entire league. Together, they scored 163 points, third behind only Connor McDavid Leon Draisaitl (177) and Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin (166). He’s key to the dynamite offense the Blackhawks have.
Panarin also has one of the best shots in the league. His slap shot is deadly, especially when he utilizes it on the power play. His backhand is also pretty gross, as is his wrist shot and snap shot and … you get it. Artemi Panarin is good.
One of the downfalls to being a primarily offensive player is being a liability defensively. I’m not going to go as far as saying Panarin is atrocious in his own zone, but he’s not particularly good. Luckily for him, he has Artem Anisimov as his center, but there’s rumors going around that the Blackhawks might trade him for cap space. Who knows at this point. The offseason is so unpredictable.
As mentioned above, Panarin’s play on the man advantage needs to improve and go back to how it was his rookie season. It may not ever reach that level again, but if the Blackhawks’ powerplay wants to be successful, the team needs Panarin to be exceptional in that department.
There’s no doubt Panarin was one of the star players for the Blackhawks this past season. His fantastic offense contributed to the team winning the Central Division and the Western Conference. The fact he is only 25 years old right now and is already an impact player is scary.
Panarin still has room to cultivate and prosper with the Blackhawks, and contribute to the youth movement the team is attempting to achieve. He’s only been on the team for two seasons, but most consider him to be part of the core. As the youngest member of that core, Panarin’s growth is important for the future of the team.
Panarin’s current contract is a blessing for the Blackhawks. He could’ve easily asked for more money than he’s getting, and asked for a trade if he didn’t receive the pay he wanted. But the Blackhawks are stuck in a salary cap nightmare, and Panarin is one of the reasons why. It’ll be interesting to see what the team does with him in the future.