Chicago Blackhawks, Artemi Panarin Could Square Off Tonight
By Sean Fitzgerald
The Chicago Blackhawks are traveling to Columbus tonight for their first preseason game of 2017, and a familiar face could greet them
The Chicago Blackhawks kick off their preseason slate against the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight. Unlike most preseason games, this game is going to carry a lot of weight.
This game is not only going to be the first look at the newly acquired Brandon Saad playing with Jonathan Toews again — barring an absence of major stars — it is going to be ’Hawks’ fans first look at Artemi Panarin in an opposing uniform.
Panarin spent his first two seasons in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks. Panarin along with Patrick Kane produced two very impressive offensive seasons. In his two years in Chicago, Panarin put up 61 goals and 90 assists for 151 points. He also won the Calder Cup in his first season. Despite those impressive numbers, the ’Hawks have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs two years in a row.
General manager Stan Bowman felt like he needed more of a two-way player in Saad, and that is why Panarin was dealt to Columbus. I was not happy that Panarin was traded, but I understood while the trade was made.
How will Panarin fare without Kane?
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While most people believe that Kane is going to fine without Panarin on the opposing wing, people are starting to wonder how Panarin will fair with Kane.
Panarin’s only two seasons in the NHL were with one of the best wingers in the league. Kane was also well known for his playmaking ability before Panarin joined the ’Hawks. People have told me that it was the perfect storm with Kane and Panarin. Kane was trending upwards offensively at the time Panarin joined the ’Hawks.
I personally believe that Panarin needs another playmaker on his line to help his game. It is also a well known fact that in addition to playing with Kane in the NHL, he played with Ilya Kovalchuk in the KHL.
Kovalchuk was a top-five offensive talent during his NHL playing days before returning home to play in the KHL. Panarin was also not asked to play often in the defensive zone. He started in the offensive zone 80 percent of the time with the Blackhawks, and that is another factor to take into consideration when wondering how he will fare in Columbus.
While the Blue Jackets have some talented players on their roster, they will not have the caliber of a player of Kane or Kovalchuk this upcoming season.
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It will be weird seeing “The Breadman” in another uniform. Hopefully he doesn’t get moldy in Columbus.