The Chicago Blackhawks have signed forward Richard Panik to a one-year contract, the team announced Wednesday. The move comes after the Hawks jump started their offseason by trading Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell to the Carolina Hurricanes earlier in the day.
The deal is worth $875,000, per Sportsnet's Chris Johnston, so Panik gets a pay cut from his $975,000 salary a year ago. Solid value for a fine depth player.
Panik, 25, was set to become a restricted free agent this offseason after splitting the 2015-16 season between the Blackhawks and Maple Leafs. Chicago acquired him from Toronto in January in exchange for Jeremy Morin and quickly found him a role eating minutes on different lines.
In 30 games with the Hawks last season, Panik recorded six goals and two assists. He was often paired with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, going from a minor role on one of the league's worst teams to a top-line role on a contender. Of course, Chicago's season eventually ended with a first-round elimination against the Blues.
As a possession player, Panik was near even with Chicago, posting a 49.8 percent Corsi at even strength. That was better than his teammates, however, as he had a +2.7 percent Corsi relative.
At the very least, Panik gives the Blackhawks a budget option for the left wing spot on the first line and, more ideally, a versatile player who can play in the bottom six. You would hope that the Hawks could locate someone with a bit more offensive pop to join Toews and Hossa, although Panik did seem to fit in with those two better than many of the alternatives Joel Quennevilled tried.
Panik does bring depth no matter what, and that's good for the Hawks. Following the trade of Teravainen, their forward corps isn't looking as hot as it did the past few years. Panik won't be a game-changer there but he at least means we won't be watching game after game of the likes of Kyle Baun.