Dec 27, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) and Winnipeg Jets center Adam Lowry (17) go for the puck during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
The biggest offseason question for the Chicago Blackhawks has been answered sooner than many expected as Artemi Panarin inked an extension
OK, Chicago Blackhawks fans, let’s all together make one big sigh of relief with Artemi Panarin having signed a two-year, $12 million extension. Better? OK, good!
The bridge deal was certainly an unexpected one to be made with the 25-year-old Russian, but it was probably the Blackhawks’ only real shot at getting something done. With the salary cap problem being the seemingly endless conundrum for the Blackhawks year after year, this deal was a true work of art between Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman and the Breadman’s agent, Tom Lynn.
Perhaps the greatest part of this deal was the amount of loyalty Panarin has shown to the Blackhawks by accepting the two-year bridge rather than cashing in.
There’s no doubt that Artemi Panarin left a substantial amount of money on the table in order to remain with Patrick Kane and company as he is without question happy to be with the Blackhawks organization.
‘Hawks fans rejoice! The Breadman is here to stay. But what does this newly struck deal mean for the financial situation of the Chicago Blackhawks?
The salary cap is more than likely not going up. Who could be out the door this summer? What happens at the end of Panarin’s extension?
Panarin on taking less to stay: "I like everything about the team and the environment here. You can’t earn all the money in the world."
While most fans (myself included) are fully on board with the Panarin contract being the No. 1 priority, one must realize that there will be repercussions Bowman will have his hands filled with this offseason. Fan favorites may be out the door. This is the reality of the salary cap era. So lets take a look at a couple negatives of the Panarin deal, shall we?
We’ve had our hearts broken many times with cap casualties. When summer rolls around, Blackhawks fans never question if, it’s always a discussion of whom and when. As seasons go by, names come and go with some lasting longer than others. More than likely the ‘Hawks will be faced with the difficult task of unloading the contract of a core player.
Could it be Marcus Kruger, the penalty kill/defensive specialist? Currently, Kruger centers the ‘Hawks’ third line and continues to impress with his defensive ability, but with a cap hit just short of $3.1 million per year, his time could be close to an end. Having a center man with Kruger’s defensive play has been a luxury, but his price may be little too steep to keep.
Watching another core member leave would be a huge loss, but it’s the price you must pay to keep such a young talent like Panarin.
Taking Brent Seabrook’s massive $6.8 million per year contract would fix the situation at hand but would be a hard pill to swallow in Chicago. This may be the best option currently as Seabrook continues to be reliable and put up his fair share of points.
Regardless, you’re starting to catch my drift, right? A big name will almost certainly go. We can agree or disagree with any of the options Bowman chooses, but it’s a business and the Chicago Blackhawks simply couldn’t afford to lose Panarin.
What happens in two years?
OK, boys and girls, fast-forward to the 2019-20 season. Lets just assume that the Breadman continues to go “Yeast Mode” in the NHL and produce at a very high level. Panarin is now an unrestricted free agent. Ouch. This kind of feels like another situation we were in this year until the deal was made.
The market will always be there for a highly skilled winger in his prime. The ‘Hawks will once again have to possess enough cap flexibility to work in another big-number contract. Most likely this contract will be worth more money per year if Panarin continues to thrive in Chicago, and that means more number crunching for Bowman.
#Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman on salary cap: "We’ll make it work. The time to dissect that is not right now but we’ll get there eventually."
This is where Panarin being a UFA becomes an issue. Sure, Panarin is extremely pleased with the Blackhawks organization. Pleased enough to turn down millions of dollars to ultimately remain a part of something special with the Blackhawks.
But what happens if this deal doesn’t go as smooth as this years’ extension? If Bowman shoots Panarin’s agent a number he feels is unsatisfactory, he will be able to walk away with the Blackhawks getting absolutely nothing. It’s a scary thought and we will surely hear about it over the next couple of seasons.
It is an endless fight to remain under the salary cap, and this scenario will be ever-present come summer 2017 and many summers to come. But when as big of a talent as Panarin falls into your lap and you wish to keep said player long-term, you will pay the price.
Similar to keeping names like Kane and Jonathan Toews, the price will be steep, and when keeping multiple massive contracts you will stumble upon many problematic situations.
With all this said, this deal was an absolute steal! Reigning Calder Trophy winner Panarin deserves every cent that he receives from the Chicago Blackhawks along with the millions of dollars left on the table. His loyalty to remain playing in front the Blackhawks faithful and for the only NHL organization he has ever known only makes me appreciate what he does more.