Analysis

Blackhawks: Recent failure shows how important Artemi Panarin was

By Ryan Fedrau
Artemi Panarin, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Artemi Panarin, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Blackhawks are yet to make the playoffs since trading away elite forward Artemi Panarin. What makes it worse is the amount of success he’s had outside of Chicago.

Artemi Panarin was an undrafted free agent, who the Chicago Blackhawks took a chance on when he joined the team in 2015-16. He made an immediate impact, joining the second line with forward Patrick Kane and newly acquired centerman Artem Anisimov.

In 162 regular-season games with the Blackhawks, Panarin scored 61 goals with 90 assists for 151 points. The 227 games since leaving Chicago has him scoring 87 goals with 177 assists for a total of 264 points. Overall, he has played in 391 NHL games, while scoring 415 points in the process.

The Blackhawks traded away a point-per-game All-Star forward for a top nine, at best, forward in Brandon Saad. That might have been the trade that broke the dynasty, even though they went two playoff years without winning a series.

Panarin and Kane had the best chemistry on the team, almost carrying the Blackhawks in some of their games together. The benefit of Panarin was his Kane-like talent, just as a right-handed forward. It gave goalies fear from both sides of the ice instead of just one.

The team used that to their advantage, keeping the pair on the ice together for the majority of Panarin’s time in Chicago.

The recent failure of the Blackhawks since Panarin left has shown how important he was to the team. Panarin has found success in both a Blue Jackets and a Rangers jersey now, taking the Blue Jackets to the playoffs both years he was there.

The Rangers are just two points out of a playoff spot, with there being 12 games left in the season, even though it’s currently paused. So far, every team Panarin has been on has made the playoffs.

I’m not saying it’s all Panarin, but his help with Kane made the Blackhawks a huge offensive threat. Panarin stuck by Kane, even getting aggressive when needing to, to protect the Blackhawks’ star.

The Blackhawks are missing that key on offense that they had with Panarin. That trade back for Brandon Saad has set the Blackhawks back for at least three-to-five seasons.

During the last three seasons, we’ve all seen a transition where Panarin is one of the best young players in the league. The Rangers have built a solid young team and have a chance to be very good for years to come. Panarin will be a huge key to that success.

It’s going to be crushing for Blackhawks’ fans to see Panarin lift the Stanley Cup in New York if he ever does. He’s the player that got away. What makes it worse is how he said he would have taken a pay cut to stay in Chicago.

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It’s a trade that will be hard to get over for years to come.

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