On June 23rd, 2017 the Blackhawks traded away a dynamic, fan-favorite winger. On July 1, 2019, the Blackhawks can avenge their mistake and bring the “bread-man” home.
When the Blackhawks were swept by the Nashville Predators in 2017, General Manager Stan Bowman promised that changes were coming. The change he made shocked the Blackhawks, the NHL, and most importantly Patrick Kane.
Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin were magic together. They had the on-ice chemistry that every hockey player wishes they had. Panarin helped Kane win his first Hart trophy and Art Ross trophy in 2016. They played well with each other, but most importantly they loved playing with one another.
They were both competitive players who wanted to score every time they had the puck. Whether it was the cross iced one-timer, drop pass, or no look saucer pass, Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin were the dynamic 1-2 punch that drove the Blackhawks offense.
Since the Blackhawks traded Panarin to the Columbus Blue Jackets, he has improved his game significantly. Panarin scored 169 points in 160 games in two seasons in Columbus and is coming off a career year with 87 points.
Panarin has also shown more consistency in the playoffs. This was one reason the Blackhawks potentially traded him back in 2017. Panarin scored 11 points in 10 games for Columbus’s playoff run this spring.
On July 1st, coming off his best season, Artemi Panarin is hitting free agency and won’t come cheap. He has proven that he is one of the most dynamic wingers in the league and will likely look for $10 million dollars a year.
For two seasons, the Blackhawks supposed “second-line” of Panarin-Anisimov-Kane was one of the most dominant in the league. If Panarin signs with Chicago in July, the Blackhawks have a chance to roll out this line again.
Not only did Panarin make an impact on Kane, but he helped Artem Anisimov achieve career years in points. In two seasons with Panarin, Anisimov scored 87 points in 141 games. Since they traded Panarin, Anisimov has collected 68 points in 150 games while mostly playing on the third line.
No one has suffered more from losing Panarin than Anisimov, and if the Blackhawks want Anisimov to be an effective center for them they need to get Panarin back in the fold.
The reason the Panarin-Anisimov-Kane line worked so brilliantly was that Panarin and Kane would work the puck on their off wings while Anisimov would drive to the net and open up space. The cycle game worked so well for this line because of that, and contributed to a ton of goals and offensive zone time.
Panarin and the 2019-2020 Blackhawks
As you may have heard, the Blackhawks enter the 2019 offseason with the most cap space they have had since 2009.
The Blackhawks have a chance to land a dynamic player this summer to help the team contend for a playoff spot. Blackhawks fans may have the opportunity to dig their old Panarin jersey out of the closet and wear it proudly.
Adding Panarin to an offense that has Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Alex DeBrincat, and Brandon Saad could potentially be one of the best in the league.
With Panarin, the Blackhawks can put Toews, Kane, and DeBrincat all on separate lines and have three balanced scoring threats.
As created on capfriendly.com, here is a look at a potential lineup for the Blackhawks with Panarin.
This offense might be the best Blackhawks offense since 2010 as they have scoring threats on all four lines.
I also believe the Blackhawks will draft Bowen Byram with the third overall pick in the draft and he will be ready to start next fall.
With this roster, the Blackhawks will have $6.5 million in cap space and will ultimately need to clear space the following season to sign DeBrincat and Strome.
I believe this will be Brandon Saad’s last season with the Blackhawks as he only has two years left on his contract. Corey Crawford is also entering the final year on his deal which will open up space for DeBrincat.
Although adding Panarin will create new cap problems, this is something the Blackhawks will have to deal with because every year that they’ve been competitive in the playoffs, they have been tight to the cap and used it on players to help them win.
The 2019 offseason is the most important time for the Chicago Blackhawks. If they can come out of the offseason signing Panarin and drafting Bowen Byram they will be set for years and be a cup contender again.
Although there have been rumors of Panarin signing with Florida or New York, I believe he will return to Chicago to play with Patrick Kane and finish what they started together.