A hot-button issue looming over the Chicago franchise this year is the need to find a way to re-sign Artemi Panarin. The Calder Memorial Trophy a year ago, Panarin has emerged as one of the superstars of the Blackhawks, a guy that needs to stay in the Windy City no matter what.
Outside of trading Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews, there really aren’t any trade scenarios that could irk me if the scenario results in cap room to give Panarin the money he deserves. There are probably some that would argue that Toews might be expendable at this point, but I’m not buying into that nonsense.
Looking at the left winger’s Calder winning season last year, Panarin put up 77 points (30 goals, 47 assists) and was the breakout player of a franchise that went through somewhat of a down year (down for the Blackhawks, not for most teams). He came in on the Hawks second line and had an immediate positive impact, playing in all but two regular season games and posting a plus-8 for the year.
This year has seen his line with Kane and Artem Anisimov move up to the top, and his game has only improved as a result. Through 36 games, Panarin has 15 goals and 21 assists, and is a plus-14. His slap shot is lethal and he has fantastic chemistry with his line mates, who are both signed to long term contracts.
In a world where we’ve seen many young Blackhawk forwards go by the wayside due to cap issues, the front office can’t let the same happen to Panarin. He is a central part to Chicago getting another shot at a Stanley Cup and there are many ways to clear cap space for him, almost all of which would be worth it.
And yes, that includes trading Corey Crawford.