Blues' Vladimir Tarasenko knew Artemi Panarin would be great in the NHL

Blues' Vladimir Tarasenko knew Artemi Panarin would be great in the NHL

ST. LOUIS — When Artemi Panarin came to the States, not many people knew what he was capable of in the NHL.

Well, one guy knew full well what Panarin could bring and tried to tell his bosses to get him on his team. Instead, he’s on the opposition.

St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko knew exactly what Panarin could do because he played alongside him in Russia years ago. For Tarasenko, Panarin will always be a great friend. Just not at the moment.

“No friends on the ice now,” Tarasenko said prior to Game 2 between the Blackhawks and Blues on Friday night.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Tarasenko told him of Panarin’s potential a few seasons ago.

“I think instead of giving him $8 million, we should have hired him as a scout,” Hitchcock said of Tarasenko. “He told us the day he got here about Panarin. He told us at least once a month about him. They're best buds, they played together, they played in the world juniors together, they played on lines together. He talked about him, and everybody looked and said he's a pretty small guy. We all look a little dumb right now.”

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks got Panarin, and it paid off well — even though it ended up costing a lot in performance bonuses. Panarin finished with 30 goals this season, the most by a Blackhawks rookie since 1995-96 (Eric Daze). Panarin earned $2.595 in bonuses thanks to his great production this season, and as general manager Stan Bowman said the other day, Panarin’s a big reason why the Blackhawks are here right now.

The Blues didn’t know Panarin could be this good. They should have. One of their own told them all along.

“I know him as a player a long time, and I think that’s how he can play every year,” Tarasenko said. “I can’t be happy for Blackhawks guy, but I’m really happy for him as a friend.”

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: