Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp, Andrew Shaw…the list goes on. Players who would be cornerstones of your average NHL franchise are constantly shed from the Blackhawks like some sort of Stanley Cup-winning snake skin. Due to salary cap constraints and the fact that most of their cap dollars are tied up with five or six players for the foreseeable future, we as Hawks fans are always afraid to fall in love with players who have earned more than the team can afford. Artemi Panarin is probably your next “victim.”
Panarin became the 27th player in NHL history to score 100 points in his first 110 games in the league, a list that includes Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin, and his teammate Patrick Kane. He’s often overlooked on a national scale considering all the young guns in today’s game are, well, younger. Your McDavids and Matthews of the world are revered because they aren’t old enough to legally drink, so Panarin gets somewhat punished because he’s older and has played in the semi-competitive KHL.
Before the season it was reported that Panarin wanted 6 years for $36mm. Considering his resume, this is completely reasonable for a guy who just celebrated his 25th birthday. However, assuming he continues to have a good year his price is likely to go up, which makes me wonder why the Hawks didn’t pounce on a contract extension earlier if they were really set on keeping him.
In order to sign Panarin, that means someone has to go. Especially considering it’s already been rumored the salary cap will remain flat next year. Can you really envision a scenario where a Seabrook or a Crawford is traded in the offseason? You could argue the only reason the Hawks are worth anything right now is because Crawford has been tremendous. Seabrook would make the most sense given his age and mileage, but other teams know that too. This is again one of those scenarios where we have no idea how the Hawks will proceed, and I have to imagine the Artemi Panarin playing for another team next year isn’t out of the question.