Blackhawks GM says they planned for Artemi Panarin to reach his bonuses

Those millions were already planned into the budget.

The Chicago Blackhawks have to pay out $2.575 million in performance bonuses to Artemi Panarin this season, and most of that will end up on the salary cap books for 2017-18 as a cap overage. It’s an unfortunate development for GM Stan Bowman, but one that he says he was expecting to happen.

With Panarin’s biggest bonus, a Schedule B reward worth $1.725 million, not getting clinched until the final day of the regular season, the Blackhawks couldn’t afford to start planning ahead under the assumption he would miss it. Rather, given how good Panarin is, it makes sense the team would operate under the assumption that cap space would not be available.

This became apparent after coach Joel Quenneville said he would help make sure Panarin reached all his bonuses near the end of the season. The team, which already clinched the No. 1 seed, could’ve tweaked his playing time, shifted the lines, or even benched Patrick Kane for a game or two just to make it a little harder for Panarin to rack up numbers. Instead, they kept those two together for meaningless games down the stretch to help Panarin get his numbers, and in the end, he needed every single one. If Panarin had one fewer point in 2016-17, the Blackhawks would have an extra $1.725 million in cap space this summer.

But that’s not how it worked out, and based on the public comments from Bowman and Quenneville, it seems like this was the plan all along. Panarin missing the bonus in spite of their best efforts to help him get it would’ve just been a convenient boost to the team. It sounds like they’re ready for the multi-million overage coming their way, though, which is good news for a team that always seems like it has a plan.