Blackhawks: Stan Bowman happy to see Artemi Panarin reach bonuses

Blackhawks: Stan Bowman happy to see Artemi Panarin reach bonuses

ST. LOUIS – Stan Bowman wasn’t sweating the Blackhawks’ money situation as rookie Artemi Panarin neared performance bonuses at the end of the regular season. After all, he got the guy because of his potential success.

“It’s always sort of puzzled me why people look at that as a bad thing,” Bowman said on Wednesday morning. “He’s come in and done something that’s maybe not unheard of but certainly you haven’t seen a first-year player come in and finish that high in the standings for points. And also, you look at the impact he had on our team, we wouldn’t be where we are today without his contributions. So I’m happy for him. I mean we were certainly rooting for him, not against him.”

Bowman talked on various subjects on Wednesday, several hours before the Blackhawks face the St. Louis Blues in Game 1 of their first-round series. The big topic was Panarin, that bonus money, and that bonus money’s effect on the 2016-17 salary cap that is still unknown.

Panarin was a massive contributor to the Blackhawks this season, his 30 goals the most for a Blackhawks rookie since Eric Daze reached that in 1995-96. After finishing as well as he started — Panarin had two goals and an assist in the Blackhawks’ regular-season finale vs. Columbus — he earned $2.595 in bonuses.

[MORE: Stanley Cup playoff preview: Blues vs. Blackhawks]

While Panarin has been a boon to the Blackhawks, he’s been a bane to the opposition. Linemate Patrick Kane was already tough enough to contain. Now throw in Panarin. St.Louis defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said you have to defend Panarin the same way you do Kane, but you also have to keep in mind how one feeds off the other.

“What they’ve found with each other is that, when you take away their time and space one seems to be supporting the other. One’s close and they make those great little plays with each other,” Shattenkirk said. “Panarin’s been someone who’s caught a lot of people off guard this year. No one knew what to expect out of him but he’s a phenomenal player. He has just a great one-timer from that off side and seems to find those quiet areas that he can get it off. He’s not as crafty as Kane is, but he can certainly make you hurt 1-on1 at the wrong time if you get caught sleeping.”

As far as the offseason math, the salary-cap fun that those bonuses will inflict: Bowman will worry about that this offseason. Well, let’s be honest, Bowman is probably already thinking of the offseason scenarios and cap. It’s what he does. But as far as Panarin goes, Bowman is thrilled to pay the forward who was a critical part of the Blackhawks’ season.

[SHOP: Gear up for the Stanley Cup playoffs, Blackhawks fans!]

Now to see what Panarin can do in the playoffs. Panarin recently said via his interpreter Stan Stiopkin that he doesn’t know what to expect in his first NHL postseason. Considering how he’s handled so many new things already — new country, new language, etc. — you’d think he would adapt pretty quickly to this, too.

Panarin earned some extra cash for his great regular season. Considering how much he helped the Blackhawks get to this point, they’re happy to pay for it.  

“He came in here, he took a chance on us. He had a lot of options. I think we owed it to him to put him in the best position to succeed,” Bowman said. “And you could tell from the beginning of the season when he scored the first goal in the first game there for our team and there was some magic all year long.”

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?


Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: