Artemi Panarin has been extended by the Blackhawks
Wednesday night TSN reported the Chicago Blackhawks have extended 25 year old Russian winger Artemi Panarin’s contract for two more years at $6 million per year. The end of the 2016-17 season would’ve rendered Panarin a restricted free agent. His current contract has him signed at a cap hit of $812,500, which is incredible given his performance this year and last. In the 2015-16 season Panarin put up 77 points in 80 games played, good for 9th place in the NHL. His current season is looking just as bright, as he’s scored 37 points in 37 games. Playing alongside linemates Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin has cemented himself as a top core player for the Chicago Blackhawks and as an elite player in the league. His $6 million cap hit will look good next to players putting up similar stats over the next two years.
Another great signing for Chicago General Manager Stan Bowman, who has built a long-term core team for the Blackhawks who will continue to win, even after already earning themselves three rings in the last 6 years. Through 2021 Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, and Artem Anisimov will occupy the top two lines of the Blackhawks, with Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook behind them at the blue line. Kane, Toews, Keith, and Seabrook are all signed until the year 2023.
Panarin’s future past this two-year contract is unknown, with young talent approaching and 29-year-old defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson’s contract expiring the same year as Panarin’s extension, he could end up somewhere else. He would be just another casualty in the Blackhawks continued success year in and year out, despite their salary cap woes. One or both of these players could meet the same fate that Saad, Teravainen, Oduya, Shaw, or Sharp did recently, just to name a few. A lot of talent to sacrifice just to keep core players together, but as long as they’re winning games you cannot question Bowman’s decisions. With the Blackhawks sitting atop the Western Conference as we approach the halfway point of the season, he will remain unquestioned.
Although goaltender Corey Crawford played well in his return from injury Friday after missing every game since December 1st, Chicago came up short in a 2-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. They followed it up with a 3-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, both of whom sit outside of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Panarin and the Blackhawks offense will look to redeem themselves in Nashville Thursday night, a game in which Crawford will be the starter for the third straight game. The two teams met twice in two days back in October, splitting victories and scoring 13 goals total. Such a game might be just what Chicago needs after their previous two 1-goal performances, and current 3 game losing streak.