Artemi Panarin’s 1st year-plus puts him among the greats

Time to get excited about some stats.

Artemi Panarin is, like, pretty good at hockey.

He just might make a long career out of this thing. And as Satchel Price wrote, the Blackhawks have a full-blown NHL superstar in his prime and would be foolish to let him get away.

It’s fair to say he’s the best left winger to come into the NHL since Alex Ovechkin. At least that’s what the stats show.

With 112 points through his 115 regular season NHL games, Panarin has already put himself alongside some of the Hawks’ best players in team history.

Using Hockey-reference.com, here’s a look at where Panarin ranks among Blackhawks through their sophomore seasons with a minimum of 115 games played.

One grain of salt to take with these numbers: Panarin entered the league in his mid-20s. Most prolific players enter the NHL at a bit younger age. Panarin also had time to develop his game in the KHL against more than respectable opponents. Got it? Ok, let’s overreact to some stats.

Goals

Yeah, that's right. Panarin is 15 goals away from tying Denis Savard for the most by a Hawk through two seasons. He’s one goal away from passing Kane in 47 fewer games played. The Russian has already scored the most goals by a left winger in his sophomore season with Chicago. That’s Bobby Hull down there at No. 10.

Points

Midway through his second year, Panarin is having the best start to his career of any left wing in Blackhawks history. So he’s got that going for him.

Shooting percentage

For all the wrong reasons, it’s a bit jarring to see Toews’ name at the top here. As impressive as it is to see Panarin in second, this is also a reminder of how dominant Toews was on offense early in his career. Criticism of Toews has been met with arguments about his effectiveness in all other aspects of the game. Panarin doesn’t have that to fall back on. He needs to produce to sustain his value. Through 115 games, he’s certainly been able to do that.

Offensive point shares

Here’s another take-with-a-grain-of-salt stat. Hockey-reference defines this as “an estimate of the number of points contributed by a player due to his offense.” This isn’t necessarily anything worth quoting or raving about, but it’s worth considering because of the company he’s leading. Hockey-reference has Panarin as the most valuable Hawks player on offense through his first two seasons. That is surely helped by the fact that he skated with the league’s MVP in Kane during the vast majority of this time — more on this later — but it goes to show just how much Panarin means to a Chicago team that all too often has been about just one scoring line.

Penalties in minutes

This isn’t worth getting excited about either, except to say that Panarin has averaged 18.5 minutes per game through 115 games and has accumulated the fourth-fewest penalty minutes of any Hawk in his first two seasons. Trustworthiness like that goes a long way on Joel Quenneville’s team, just look at who took the fewest penalty minu....wait, never mind.

Let’s zoom out for a moment. As amazing as Panarin has been through 1.5 years in terms of Blackhawks history, he’s also been worth marveling at in terms of league standings.

Points by left wingers through two seasons

You have to scroll a second or two before finding Panarin on this list, but consider this: Only three players ahead of Panarin started their careers this millennium — Thomas Vanek, Ilya Kovalchuk and Alex Ovechkin. Panarin is six points behind Kovalchuk in 31 fewer games. He's 20 points behind Vanek in 48 fewer games with more than half the season to go. If Panarin totals 80 points this season (he finished with 77 last year), he’ll tie for fourth place on this list.

Side note: Holy crap, Ovechkin is a machine.

Points per game by left wingers through two seasons

That’s what you’ve been waiting for. Panarin is averaging the most points per game through two seasons since Alex Ovechkin.

You can argue that playing with Kane during his most productive season has inflated the sophomore’s numbers, but that argument goes both ways. It’s completely fine that both players make each other better. That’s an even bigger reason why the Hawks can’t afford to let Panarin walk.

After looking at the numbers, it’s OK to go ahead and say it: Artemi Panarin is have the best start to his career of any left winger in a decade.

And he’s still got about 40 games to go.