As the regular season begins in just a couple of weeks, the Chicago Blackhawks are looking to improve on their early exit last season. The team kicks off training camp at Johnny’s Icehouse in Chicago on September 23. Over the next few weeks, Blackhawk Up will give projections for the stats of each player heading into the season, based off the trend of past three seasons, career averages, and potential line-mate projections.
Can Panarin Avoid Second-Year Slump In Chicago?
Last season was a disappointment for the Chicago Blackhawks as far as an ending goes. Losing in the first-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs wasn’t they way everyone had hoped to go out. But not all was lost in the 2015-16 season. One of the biggest, if not the biggest surprises of the year was the emergence of Russian winger Artemi Panarin.
A relative unknown to most fans coming into last year, Panarin took just one game to get the attention of the hockey world and didn’t look back on his way to winning the NHL’s Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year.
Probably the biggest factors for Panarin’s success was being able to play alongside his Russian countryman Artem Anisimov and eventual Hart Trophy winner Patrick Kane. The latter of which can also be said for Kane, that playing alongside Panarin helped him greatly on his way to winning the Hart Trophy.
No question that more of the same is in store for 2016-17. Panarin, Kane, and Anisimov will be playing alongside each other again and will be looked at as possibly the biggest driving force behind Chicago’s offensive attack.
Now in Panarin’s second year in the NHL, are the standards too high to reach or does he have a another gear to tap into and build on his rookie campaign?
There is more to Artemi Panarin to be seen. If his performance in the World Cup of Hockey is any indicator, Panarin is still just getting started with his NHL potential. Last season was a near perfect introduction to the Blackhawks for Panarin, and he shows no signs of not being able to live up to his first season, and then some.
Playing alongside Kane and Anisimov will more than likely produce the same amount of opportunities for offensive flash for Chicago. Add into the fact that Anisimov will be at 100% in his wrist and one can expect his face-off numbers to improve and that means more possessions for Panarin and Kane to work with.
Writer Prediction: Slightly Over
Panarin isn’t going to ‘shock’ anyone this season. Teams will know what he is capable of and will be theoretically more well prepared to defend him. ‘Theoretically’ speaking because defending the duo of Kane and Panarin is a pick your poison situation because both are almost equally as dangerous.
If Panarin has another level of play to reach, there is no question that he can and will reach it this season. Especially if Panarin and Chicago are working on a longer-term contract, he will be at the top of his game to try to get as much of top-dollar as he can. Therefore, the production prediction for Artemi Panarin is 74 points for 2016-17.