The largest mystery looming over the Chicago Blackhawks appears to be solved.
The Blackhawks have reached an agreement on a contract extension with winger Artemi Panarin, according to The Athletic’s Scott Powers. The length of the contract and salary figures are currently unknown, but Powers reports an announcement is expected to be made Thursday morning.
Multiple reports suggest the Blackhawks signed Panarin to a bridge deal, which is certainly an unexpected twist. The deal is reportedly worth two years with an average annual value of $6 million.
Hearing the Panarin extension with CHI as reported by @ByScottPowers is two years with a $6M AAV. Creative.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 28, 2016
Panarin's extension in CHI first reported by @ByScottPowers. It's believed to be a two-year bridge deal in the $6M AAV neighborhood.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 28, 2016
There’s good news and bad news with a deal like this. The good news is Panarin would be locked up for what could be the team’s final few years of being true Stanley Cup contenders. It also buys GM Stan Bowman a couple of years to configure the roster and potentially rework some salaries.
The bad news is the Hawks are pretty much putting off this situation for another two years and Panarin’s value could be even higher by then.
Panarin is in his second season with the Blackhawks after signing with them out of the KHL prior to the 2015 season. He emerged as one of Chicago’s most dynamic playmakers and won the Calder Trophy last season after putting up 30 goals and 77 points while primarily playing alongside Patrick Kane.
“The Breadman, ” as Joel Quenneville calls him, isn’t showing any signs of stopping in his second season. Panarin is fifth in the NHL with 37 points and ranks 10th with 15 goals.
There was concern that the Hawks would be forced to part ways with Panarin due to salary cap constraints, a la the Brandon Saad situation a couple of years ago. There still might be some ramifications from this deal, but it appears as if Panarin is locked up for at least the immediate future.
Clearly, Blackhawks fans are excited. But some are curious what this means for the rest of the roster, as the Hawks will probably have to make room for Panarin elsewhere.
Stan Bowman almost always pays market value for his guys. I'm fascinated to see what he was able to do with Panarin.
— Jay Zawaski (@JayZawaski670) December 28, 2016
A belated Christmas gift from the @NHLBlackhawks . Thank you, Stan and Artemi!
— KiKi (@Kiki0947) December 28, 2016
I guess that leaves the question: Who's getting shipped off next year?
— Runaway Bacon (@RunawayBacon) December 28, 2016