Wednesday, January 10th 2018, will go down as the day that the Blackhawks officially gave up on Richard Panik. I find it somewhat ironic that the last Blackhawks blog posted here was about Panik’s contract extension and today, 244 days later, he’s no longer with the team. But the extension made sense, he was coming off a career year. The addition of Saad had the top line set up for success right away. Unfortunately the confidence of Panik was tough to keep up. Once he received the extension, he was shocked by how much Stan Bowman offered him. He felt like he needed to go out and prove himself even more, but doing so changed how he played. He was no longer the fast, punishing power forward with a great shot. He was skating less and trying to create more opportunities with the puck. Those are the type of attributes you want from some guys, but not a guy like Panik that’s earned his money by checking hard, and being in the right place at the right time. Over the last 28 games of his Chicago career, he scored 1 goal and had 7 assists to go along with a -2 +/- and little to no help on the Power Play or Penalty Kill. It was inevitable. Being an optimist, I thought he was starting to turn the corner. Playing on the bottom six was starting to work for him, but for someone making $2.8 million this year and next, he needed to be a scoring threat.
Anthony Duclair is a 22 year old left-handed winger from Quebec. He was a 3rd round pick by the New York Rangers in the 2013 NHL Draft and was a point-per-game player in juniors until he was drafted. During his last full season in juniors, exploded for 50 goals, and 49 assists in 59 games and made the Rangers NHL roster to start the 2014-15 season. Midway through the year he was sent back to his juniors team where he spent the rest of the season. At the trade deadline of 2015, he was traded to Arizona along with John Moore, a 2015 2nd round pick, and a 2016 1st round pick for Keith Yandle, Chris Summers, and a 2016 4th round pick. The 2015-16 season was great for Duclair, he developed great chemistry on the top line with youngster Max Domi and had his first career 20 goal season. His sophomore season was a struggle. In January 2017, he was assigned to Arizona’s AHL team, the Tuscon Roadrunners, due to his lack of production. He was recalled about a month and a half later, but only managed to get in to 58 games and had only 5 goals and 15 assists.
On the outside, this deal seems pretty fair right now. By the end of this season, we’ll have a better idea of who won this trade. But as for now, Duclair has only a $1.2 million cap hit, less than half of Panik, and he will be a restricted free agent at the end of this year. So with this move, Stan Bowman has a little more wiggle room in cap space, although I don’t foresee any big moves this season. I would anticipate a bigger move during the offseason, or at the 2019 trade deadline. But then again I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.