Everything Else

It’s often hilarious to remember that the Blackhawks got Richard Panik from the Maple Leafs for alleged professional hockey player Jeremy Morin. Poor Mr. Morin has found himself traded aproximately 200 times in his career and has never stuck at the NHL level. I don’t even know if he still plays for any organization in North America, and I truly don’t care to Google it and find out. Richard Panik is still here and could be important for the Blackhawks this season. He’s certainly important for those jokes about that one band.

2016-17 Stats

82 GP – 22 G – 22 A

49.6 CF% – 50.0 oZS% – 50.0 dZS%

14:44 Avg. TOI

A Look Back: Panik had a rather productive season last year, and in terms of what was expected from him he just about blew up. His 44 points were far and away a career high, and a cool 35 of those came at evens. He benefited greatly from playing with Toews and/or Hossa for most of the season, but in many ways also helped to redeem the season for those two as well. It’s not often that a forward of Panik’s ilk makes such a big leap forward in his age 25 season, especially after basically putrid production numbers in the past, but you’ll find no complaints around these parts about him being able to do so. His possession numbers weren’t exactly encouraging, but with a dead even split in zone starts, and the competition he faced alongside Toews, he wasn’t going to light up the Corsi Files anyway.

The most encouraging thing about Panik’s season is that it is extremely easy to find how and why he was able to jump up in production so easily. The cynic’s brain would likely seek to attribute it to an unsustainable spike in shooting percentage, as he registered a 14.2% conversion rate, but that was actually down last year from a 15.4% mark in 15-16, and was below his career mark of 14.4% as well. I was actually not that shocked upon seeing those numbers, because Panik does have a good wrist shot, with a quick release and damn near devastating speed on it.

Shooting was the reason for his uptick in production though, as Panik put 155 shots on goal last year. That’s 1.89 shots per game, well up from his 1.3 shots per game in 15-16 and career mark of 1.19 per game heading into last season. Shooting more often is pretty much going to increase just about anyone’s production, but when you’re a career 14% shooter, not shooting whenever you get the chance is damn near a crime.

A Look Ahead: My assumption is that Panik will stay with Toews on the top line this season but flip to the right side while Saad flanks the left. Given that Saad and Panik both play Hossa-type games, and Saad is better than Hossa was anyway (I am aware of the punishment for blasphemy, thank you), it wouldn’t be surprising to see those three gel together nicely atop the lineup. I don’t expect Hossa-like results from Panik, but he can at least embrace a bit more of a Hossa-esque role by getting into the corners and filling up the slot, allowing Saad and Toews to be themselves.

What I do want to see out Panik is even more shooting. Seriously, if you’re a 14% shooter, just find open ice and scream for the puck. I don’t want it to get to Sharp/Panarin levels of standing around and waiting for one timers, but Saad and Toews are both creative enough playmakers to get Panik in good situations to shoot frequently. If he can get two shots on goal per game, I wouldn’t be surprised if he put up 25 goals and 50 points this year. And assuming he spends more of the season on the top line and sees an increase in time on ice, he will probably have the chances to do just that.

Now, if he doesn’t end up producing very well, that wouldn’t make him invaluable to this team. He can still fit in nicely as a quasi-scorer on a two-way third line, possibly next to Anisimov. That wouldn’t be the worst outcome either. For $2.8mildo, if he can even put 15 goals on the board, it’ll be money well spent.

Statistics via Hockey Reference.

Previous Player Previews

Corey Crawford

Anton Forsberg

Duncan Keith

Connor Murphy

Michal Kempny

Brent Seabrook

Gustav Forsling

The 6th D-Man

Artem Anisimov

Lance Bouma

Laurent Dauphin

Alex DeBrincat

Ryan Hartman

John Hayden

Vinnie Hinostroza

Tanner Kero

Patrick Kane

Everything Else

Leave it to Toronto. The Maple Leafs have been the hairy asshole of the NHL for the better part of a century now, yet they continue to claim themselves as some kind of important, historic NHL organization. The media that covers the team has ruined hockey coverage. Their fans ruined hockey Twitter. And now, after years of exploiting the ever-living shit of the LTIR cap exception, the team may have just managed to screw things up for the whole league in that regard.

The Leafs are hardly the only team to have circumvented the salary cap with the LTIR exception, but they’re without a doubt the worst offender. Because Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment essentially prints Loonies (which is probably a down market at this point in and of itself), they’ve been unafraid to write checks to players that they have no intent on playing. Hell, they traded for Nathan Horton for the sole purpose of getting LTIR relief, and more recently have been keeping an apparently entirely healthy Joffrey Lupul off the ice for the cap relief and to make room for the New Kids From The Block cover band that makes up their forward group.

Everything Else

-There seemed to have been a bit of furor–in that whenever anything happens in July you have to make something out of it to pretend anything is happening at all–that at the convention Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov expressed disappointment that Artemi Panarin had been traded for Brandon Saad.

It’s clearly obvious why Kane would be. His numbers are going to suffer. And that doesn’t make Kane out to be selfish or uncaring about the team. Most if not all hockey players are acutely aware of their stats, just as any athlete is any other sport is as well. Believe me, Jimmy Butler knows exactly what his points and assists are per game and Kris Bryant knows what he’s hitting. It’s part of the job.

Everything Else

Couple nuggets the past couple days that pretty much lead one to believe this is your Hawks team taking the ice in October, if you didn’t already believe that. We have this from friend of the program Scott Powers that the Hawks aren’t going to LTIR Hossa until the season begins. And then there was Mirtle’s piece yesterday in Toronto’s Athletic about how the Leafs are using summer LTIR. If you’re getting confused, you’re not alone.

Ever since the announcement that Hossa wouldn’t play this season, Stan Bowman has been strongly hinting he didn’t want to use LTIR until the season began, essentially being cap compliant with Hossa’s contract on the books when the puck drops, because he wanted “flexibility” during the season. And that’s reasonable enough. Except it doesn’t appear to be that simple.

Everything Else

Few things to clean up today:

-Stan and Q had their press conference today to discuss Marian Hossa and the draft. Q had the look of a man who just saw his one top six winger who can backcheck effectively ripped away from him, because he is. There’s not much Q can do at the moment, as we get the feeling he’s going to be less involved on free agency and trades and personnel decisions than he’s been.

So it came to Stan, who had to wax poetic about how complicated it’s going to be using Hossa’s cap space in LTIR. And he’s right, it isn’t as simple as most believe.

Everything Else

Ok, I know. I shouldn’t joke about this. It really isn’t funny, and I’m sure if I were going through it I would probably gut anyone making a joke about my skin literally peeling off.

So there’s a couple things this post is not going to be. One, I’m not going to try and convince any Hawks fan who thinks this is totally on the up and up that it isn’t. Nor am I going to try to convince anyone outside our bubble that is convinced this is fishy that it isn’t. I think if you want to Occam’s Razor this, it’s probably something of both. Hossa has been dealing with this for a few years, and now that the medication is A) less effective and B) possibly poisoning him to the point they have to blood test him regularly (think Iron Man 2, though we all know that Hossa is more a Steve Rodgers, organic lab experiment type thing instead of a machine but stick with me here). And now that his salary is dropping to $1M, and he’s won just about everything there is to win, and his Hall case is pretty secure, maybe he figures it’s not as worth it to torture himself and put his health at risk for it anymore.

It’s easy to sit here and say we’d do anything for a million dollars, but why is it Kevin Durant can eschew millions more to keep the Warriors together and everyone pretty much shrugs and agrees that a few million more won’t make any difference to him, but everyone outside of Chicago is crying foul on Hossa when his actual health is at risk here? Strange, no?

Everything Else

We’ve had some fun here the past couple months, leaving the Hawks in the background for the most part while they study and fidget about what to do to reclaim what they once felt was theirs. Obviously there’s not much you can do once your punted from the playoffs except have a press conference where you express just how angry you are and promise changes. Then you go back into the offices and realize you’re pretty much boned but thank your lucky stars you didn’t say that in public.

So we don’t have much to work with yet, and the answers probably don’t start really arriving until next week when the expansion draft, which for some inane reason is woven into the NHL Awards, takes place. But that won’t stop us from guessing!

Everything Else

It will be the longest summer for the Hawks since 2008. Even when they bit it in the first round in ’11, ’12, and last year, they at least made it to the last week of April. They barely cleared Tax Day this time.

So there’s going to be plenty of time for the Hawks to diagnose their issues and then prescribe what they want to do about it. Fifth Feather was correct last night, in that you can’t make rash decisions on a small set of games. Let’s go back to 2012. You actually forget how good that team was in the regular season, the second half without Toews. They finished with 101 points, and after that nine-game losing streak that nearly killed us all, they actually went 16-5-4 with Patrick Kane as the #1 center.

But they got goalie’d by Mike Smith, Toews wasn’t in any condition to be playing, and Crawford threw up all over himself. You’ll recall after that series there were plenty of calls for heads to roll, trade Kane for Ryan Miller, and how the 2010 Cup was a total fluke. You’ll also recall that this is when the rumors of Q and Stan Bowman not working well together and Q batting his eyes to Marc Bergevin in Montreal started to swirl. This supposedly caused McDonough to sort it all out, which led to Mike Haviland being turfed as an assistant and the hiring of Jamie Kompon, whatever that did for you.

Everything Else

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Ixnay On The Hombre: Anaheim Calling

Like a buoyant High Life hangover turd in a port-o-john at a summer street festival, the Anaheim Ducks have somehow floated their way to the top of the Pacific Division, and have an opportunity to clinch the division yet again for the fifth straight year should they win in any fashion tonight and San Jose beats the Oilers. What a time to be alive.