The Chicago Blackhawks were the lucky recipients of eventual Calder Trophy winner Artemi Panarin in the summer of 2015.
The Russian-born forward, who played exclusively in the KHL prior to coming to North America last season, inked an entry-level deal with Chicago in order to come aboard with the Central Division club.
That meant that the Blackhawks were able to get a whopping 30 goals and 77 points out of what came down to just a $812,500 initial cap hit – and while performance bonuses ultimately resulted in Panarin costing the team far more than just an entry-level salary, he will likely cost even more on a new extension.
The team and the player are both seemingly prepared to make that happen, though – and sooner rather than later, if reports are accurate.
The Atlantic has suggested that Panarin’s camp and the Blackhawks have begun preliminary talks to lock the winger up. Although those talks aren’t expected to yield anything particularly weighty until after the World Cup of Hockey, set to begin in early to mid September, it’s still a promising sign that the two sides are already getting talks under way.
There isn’t much to report beyond that, of course. The Atlantic’s report suggests that general manager Stan Bowman isn’t talking, and he’s made it clear that his silent treatment won’t really change, either.
Plenty can still be inferred, though.
At just 23, Panarin likely still has his best years of hockey ahead of him – so a long-term deal is certainly one that seems like it would pay off for Chicago, even if it puts their already-strained finances in an even tighter bind. As a result, a long-term deal seems like something that both sides would want to work towards.
With little space left from year to year, though, the Blackhawks will have trouble giving Panarin a deal that doesn’t involve at least some kind of ‘home team’ discount – something that will hinge on Chicago convincing the young forward that they’re his best bet for long-term success. The sooner a deal is done, the less leverage Panarin will have; as a result, expect talks to continue building as soon as they can get under way again following the end of the World Cup.