By: Adam Pasternak
The NHL season is still very young, but it isn’t too early to say that the Chicago Blackhawks have outdone themselves yet again. They keep winning, even after having to introduce new, young players every year to fix their never-ending cap troubles. This year, they have Russian-rookie sensation Artemi Panarin. He was signed to a two year entry level deal this past summer after putting up 62 points in the KHL last season. He’s 24 years old and has played with grown men since 2008 and is definitely the most NHL ready rookie this season. With Connor McDavid unfortunately going down with an early injury, Panarin has already taken over the rookie scoring lead with 15 points in 15 games and looks poised to be named R.O.Y at seasons end. He’s already been moved up to the top line with Patrick Kane and definitely does not play like a rookie. Chicago has found their hidden gem. No Patrick Sharp? No problem! Panarin is filling voids the ‘Hawks thought they probably would not be able to fill, or at least this quickly. Chicago is poised to do big things, yet again, and there’s no doubt that Panarin is a key contributor to that.
You may recognize Panarin’s name not only from this NHL season, but from the 2011 World Juniors. He scored the gold medal winning goal against Canada for Russia. I remember it very well, and it wasn’t a fun moment at all for Canadians. He’s produced at every level he’s ever played at and I don’t see any reason as to why he’ll be any different in the NHL. Ovechkin had a great first season as an “older” rookie, and we all know what he’s done since then. I’m not saying Panarin is the next Ovechkin, but he could be close to being just as good. He’s speedy and agile and has a quick release. He’s not your typical Russian sniper though, as he has 11 assists this season compared to his 4 goals. Playing with guys like Kane and Towes, his numbers should only go up. Even if he’s not potting goals, as long as he touches the puck he has a chance to get an assist playing with players with such skill. He will get some time on the power play and his opportunities will only increase as the season goes on. He’s pretty fortunate to somewhat have had the opportunity to choose where he would play in the NHL as an underrated free agent, and Chicago is never a bad choice. All they’ve done in the last five years or so is win and it doesn’t look like they will stop anytime soon. Artem Panarin is quickly becoming a favourite amongst Blackhawk and NHL fans alike. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the season unfolds for him and don’t be surprised if he’s named the top rookie at the end of the season. Again, if McDavid was healthy, he would win, but he will be out for a few months. He just won’t have enough time to put up the numbers.
What do you think about Artem Panarin? Comment below!
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