Chicago Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin has been one of the biggest surprises this season after coming over from the KHL in the offseason. He leads all rookies with 26 points in 26 games.
The 24-year-old winger has received high praise, but for the Russian, Pavel Bure may have had most encouraging words.
In a guest blog for the NHL's Russian-language website NHL.com/ru, and translated by NHL.com, Bure wrote a rave review about Panarin:
"Panarin reminds me of myself with his size and speed," Bure told NHL.com. "He managed to seamlessly integrate into a team that won the Stanley Cup only a few months ago. And not only that, Panarin currently ranks second in scoring on the Blackhawks behind Patrick Kane. He has everything to become a star in this league."
Panarin is on pace to score more than 70 points this season. That would surpass Bure's 60 point rookie season total, who was only 20 in his 65-game campaign in 1992. Bure won the Calder Memorial Trophy, given to the league's top rookie, which Panarin has been listed among the favorites to win at the season's end.
Panarin would be the first Russian since Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin won the award back-to-back in 2006 and 2007. Russians Evgeni Nabokov (2001), Sergei Samsonov (1998) and Sergei Makarov (1990) also won the award.
Let's see if Panarin can follow in his countryman's footsteps.