Chicago Blackhawks winger Richard Panik played a wildly uneven first half of the 2016-17 season, then found his game to help power the ‘Hawks’ spectacular stretch run
After posting ten points — including a hat trick — in his first eleven games last season, the Chicago Blackhawks’ Richard Panik produced just five points over the next 32 games while bouncing between the third and fourth lines. But after returning to the top line in mid-January, the talented winger also returned to the scoreboard, tallying 11 goals and 27 points down the stretch to help power the Blackhawks to the top of the Western Conference.
With Prospect Camp just completed and the Blackhawks Convention now in full swing, ‘Hawks fans have plenty to occupy their summer dreams. At Blackhawk Up, we’re also evaluating many players’ performance last season. Here’s a look at Panik.
2016-17 regular-season statistics: 82 games, 22 goals, 22 assists, 44 points, plus-14 rating, 49.45 percent Corsi-for (even strength).
2016-17 playoff statistics: 4 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, minus-3 rating, 47.42 percent Corsi-for (even strength).
Panik is a power forward with elite skill who can make opposing players look foolish. In the Blackhawks’ 4-1 win over Pittsburgh on March 1, he snatched a quick feed from Duncan Keith at the left boards, wheeled towards the slot, then froze the Pens’ Evgeni Malkin with a nifty dangle before firing the puck top-shelf past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for what would be the game-winning-goal. Watch it here.
That level of drive to the net and ability to finish gave Panik his first career hat trick on Oct. 15 against Nashville along with a career-best seven-game point streak last February in which he scored five goals and five assists.
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Panik brings a punishing, heavy-hitting element to the game and led all ‘Hawks with 147 hits last season. He was also a valuable member of the Blackhawks’ powerplay unit, tallying five PPG’s and five assists.
Because Panik loves laying a bone-crushing hit on opposing players, it’s not surprising he spent lots of time in the penalty box, where his 58 minutes of residency ranked second only to bellicose Ryan Hartman. Grit and toughness are a big part of Panik’s game, but reducing the number of needless penalties would be a good thing all around.
Panik has been a streaky player with some worrisome dry spells separating glorious point streaks. After his red-hot start last season, Panz went 13 games without a point, which got him demoted to third and fourth line duty for most of November and December to ill effect. He can play up and down the lineup, but only seemed to thrive in a top-six role.
Panik’s 22 goals, five game-winning-goals, 44 points, 155 shots and 14.2 shooting percentage were all top-six forward numbers for the Blackhawks last season, and earned him a two-year contract extension, with a cap hit of $2.8 million.
The durable winger was one of only three ‘Hawks to play in all 82 regular season games last year. If he can add more consistent scoring throughout the season, Panik could break into the NHL’s top tier of point producers. He’s that good.