Hockey is a forever changing sport. Anything can happen. Rules, players, coaches, even the game has changed much over the years.
Reigning Stanley Cup Champions the Chicago Blackhawks made major adjustments over the summer. Fan favourites Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya moved to onward to the Dallas Stars, and Brandon Saad was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Jeremy Morin, Marko Dano, Artem Anisimov, Corey Tropp and a fourth round draft pick in 2016. With the leavers and the trades, came the newcomers. One such man, already making a big name for himself, is Artemi Panarin. Back in April this year, Panarin agreed to a two-year entry-level deal with the Blackhawks and is so far proving he is worth every cent.
In With The Big Guns?
In his opening game for the Blackhawks, Panarin scored his first ever NHL goal with his first shot against Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers. Almost eight years ago, to the day, in 2007, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, too scored in his first game against the San Jose Sharks, also with his first shot on goal. With just fifteen games played into his debut NHL season campaign, Panarin has racked up fifteen points and a +4 already. In the Blackhawks most recent game against the Edmonton Oilers, it took Panarin just 58 seconds to get on the board. So far, he sits second for points scored, with a certain hot-shot Patrick Kane above him.
Having only just celebrated his 24th birthday, the Russian native has spent the last seven seasons playing mainly in the KHL in his homeland. He has most notably played for SKA St. Petersburg, last year tallying up an enormous 62 points in 54 games. Panarin has also had stints at International level. Last season, he battled with the Russian team at the World Championships to get the silver medal, just losing out to Canada in the final. In the ten games he played, he scored ten points, making him the fifteenth highest scorer in the entire tournament.
Panarin currently leads all rookies in the 2015-16 season in assists, with a total of 9 so far, and sits joint second with Arizona Coyotes’ Max Domi with 11 total points.
With Panarin making a name for himself so early in his NHL career, he looks set to be a firm Blackhawks fan favourite, as well as gaining fans from around the league. It looks like coach Joel Quenneville and his team have made a great decision in welcoming him to the Blackhawks.