26-Year-Old Right Wing – Chicago Blackhawks
Richard Panik Contract Information:
Signed a two-year, $5.6 million contract extension with the Blackhawks in May of 2017.
Panik scored a power-play goal and recorded an assist during Monday's 4-3 overtime loss to Toronto.
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Richard Panik: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Panik joined the Blackhawks mid-season in 2015-16 as part of a trade that sent Jeremy Morin to Toronto in January. The 25-year-old winger went on to appear in 30 regular-season games with the 'Hawks, notching six goals and two assists over that span. The left-handed forward was largely limited to a bottom-six role until Chicago's final three games of the season, in which he was given an opportunity to skate on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa in a trio of do-or-die playoff contests against St. Louis. The 'Hawks ultimately fell short, succumbing to the Blues in a brutal seven-game series, but there was a silver lining, as Panik showed he was worthy of a more significant role going forward. The 2009 second-round pick tallied three assists and registered 17 hits in the team's final three playoff tilts, an impressive performance from a player that had previously been stuck in a bottom-six role. It isn't clear if Panik's play at the end of the season was enough to lock him into a top-six role heading into the 2016-17 campaign, but if he's able to lock down the left-wing spot on Chicago's top line early on, he could end up being one of the best sleeper picks of this year's drafts. Owners would be wise to consider rolling the dice on Panik in the later rounds of their fantasy drafts this season.
Panik's talent might not match up to Jonathan Drouin's, but then again, not many prospects do. He had a respectable 13 points in 51 games with the Bolts in 2013-14 and he's looking to triple that tally in the right situation this season. He will need a top-six gig to show off his true value, but the addition of Ryan Callahan will make that unlikely. He has the skill and the smarts to be an NHL regular, but you will need to monitor his growth and his decision-making ability. There are plenty of guys waiting in the wings to take his role if he doesn't start to seize the day.
Is this sneaky Slovak ready for prime time? Maybe given his nine-point, 25-game audition with the Bolts last season. His game is growing steadily and, best of all, he is finally starting to engage physically -- a must in today's NHL. His top-end ability isn't at the same level as say Brett Connolly, Tyler Johnson or Alex Killorn, all of whom he'll battle for a job. And he really needs a job on a scoring line to shine -- he's more of a passenger than a driver when it comes to making offense. The Bolts have a lot of talented, young scorers knocking on the door, so Panik is going to have to really impress to beat them out. We say watch and wait.
Speed? Check. Size? Yup. Skill? Off the charts. Consistency? Well … And that's the book on Panik. There are moments when he channels his best Marian -- Hossa or Gaborik, take your pick. And then there are times when he floats around on his favorite pontoon boat. There are still too many of the pontoon trips for our liking, but if he could add some intensity to his game, he could earn a job with the big club in a couple years. He's AHL-bound for 2012-13 ... unless lightning strikes.
Panik is electricity on ice. He's fast and skilled with a seeing-eye shot and we're convinced he's going to impress during camp this year. That doesn't mean he'll make the team nor should he -- a year of seasoning in the AHL will do him a world of good. But it won't be long before he'll be given a shot as the Bolts' second-line right winger. And that's not a bad future at all.
Panik is an absolute magician with the puck and his hockey IQ is top-notch. But for all of the talent he brings to the table, he seems to shrink when the going gets tough. Maybe he just needs a little more time to adjust to the North American game. His upside is as a 30-goal, 60-point, second-line winger; that won't come to fruition for at least four to five years.
Panik was considered a possible first-round talent who slipped significantly on draft day. He's a great talent but he's a long way off. And like some other Euro players, he could be a boom or bust. But he's worth stashing away on the chance it may be the former.