The 2016 second-round pick and 19-year-old forward scored his first career NHL goal in the first period, ripping a quick shot stick side on Carey Price to get the Blackhawks on the board. He then set up Artem Anisimov on a pretty passing play to give Chicago a two-goal lead midway through the second period.
They were able to hold on from there, with Crawford facing 16 shots in the final 20 minutes as Montreal tried to force a comeback.
Panarin sets franchise record in Blue Jackets debut
One day after his former team put 10 goals on the board versus Pittsburgh, Artemi Panarin had a memorable game of his own in his regular season debut for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
It wasn’t a hat trick of goals like the one Brandon Saad recorded on Thursday. Instead, Panarin had three assists, his first a nifty set up on Cam Atkinson‘s first goal of the season. The Blue Jackets jumped out to a big lead over the New York Islanders and cruised from there to a 5-0 win.
The Blue Jackets already had a group of young players that took a step forward last season by contending for the Metropolitan Division against Pittsburgh and the Washington Capitals. They set a new standard for the organization, setting franchise records in wins and points. The play of Sergei Bobrovsky in net played a significant role, too.
They added to their group this summer by acquiring Panarin from Chicago in a blockbuster that sent Saad back to the Blackhawks. In acquiring Panarin, Columbus received a 25-year-old forward with two impressive NHL seasons under his belt, as he reached at least 30 goals in each of those years with the Blackhawks.
He did so playing alongside Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane, who has been a dangerous offensive player throughout junior and throughout his NHL career. That said, there seems to be suggestions that Panarin’s production was boosted by the fact he played as Kane’s linemate.
It’s a point that he has expressed anger toward. Who can blame him? After all, he scored 102 points combined over two seasons in the KHL before joining the Blackhawks and continued to put up good numbers in the NHL.
His time in Columbus is off to a good start. He showed chemistry with Atkinson, a 35-goal scorer last season, on the second goal. Breaking into the zone with speed, Panarin put a beautiful pass across the ice for Atkinson, who re-directed the puck in off his skate.
We’ve seen four hat tricks through the first two days of the new season, marking NHL history in the process.
No hat trick tonight for Panarin, but his three assists in his debut were enough to make Blue Jackets history. On the third night of the new NHL season, no less.
The only constant when it comes to Joel Quenneville’s line combinations with the Chicago Blackhawks is that they are always going to change.
The one exception to that over the past couple of seasons has been the second line of Patrick Kane, Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin, a truly dynamic trio that could take over any game at any time. But with Panarin now playing in Columbus following an offseason trade to reacquire Brandon Saad even that line has been broken apart.
“It’s been good, actually,” Anisimov said. “Every time it’s a challenge, you know? It’s hard to play without those two guys, but you have to adapt to situations and I can play with every player. I’ll try to do my best with any player on the team.”
Replacing Anisimov alongside Kane has been 21-year-old Nick Schmaltz. If he ends up sticking on that line for any reasonable amount of time it should help to boost his production a little bit.
Dropping Anisimov down to his own line could, in theory, help to stretch out the Blackhawks’ depth a little bit and not make them quite as top heavy. If he ends up playing on a line with a young standout like Debrincat — who absolutely should make the roster — it could help create a pretty dynamic third line … assuming Anisimov is able to maintain his current level of production away from Kane and Panarin.
Anisimov has played the best hockey of his career with the Blackhawks (averaging more than 20 goals and 45 points each year) but he has also been surrounded by some pretty high-end talent. Debrincat has the look of a potential star, and Sharp has been a high-level player in the past, so it’s not like he is going to be dragging around some anchors. But it is still a pretty significant change.
Of course, given how much the Blackhawks juggle their lines it is probably only a matter of time until he ends up back alongside Kane anyway.
The Hjalmarsson and Panarin deals were both surprising, but there’s no denying that the Panarin deal probably hurt Blackhawks fans the most. After all, he scored at least 30 goals in each of his first two seasons and he put up 77 and 74 points.
The 25-year-old was a fixture on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov. More often than not, the trio was Chicago’s most dangerous and dynamic line.
The whole trade was pretty interesting. Chicago shipped Panarin, prospect Tyler Motte and a sixth-round pick in 2017 to Columbus for former ‘Hawk Brandon Saad, Anton Forsberg and a fifth-round pick in 2018.
As dynamic as the young Russian is, Saad is no slouch either. The ‘Hawks drafted the 24-year-old in the second round of the 2011 draft. Since he entered the league in 2012, he’s surpassed the 20-goal goal mark three times, including a 31-goal season back in 2015-16.
Each player’s contract situation also played a factor in this deal. Both make $6 million per season, but Panarin has two years left on his deal while Saad is under contract for four more years.
Although these two players are different, it appears as though this is a trade that makes sense for both sides. Chicago may have traded the “shiftier” player away, but Saad can create offense too, and the fact that he’s under contract for two extra years is also a plus.
Still, there are plenty of people who think the ‘Hawks made a mistake by making this trade.
How do you feel about this transaction? Vote in the poll below and feel free to leave your opinion in the comments section.
DeBrincat one to watch when ‘Hawks hold prospects camp
The Chicago Blackhawks will hold their prospects camp next week — and when they do, expect all eyes to be on Alex DeBrincat, the 19-year-old forward who’s piled up points as an OHL star but whose NHL ceiling is a matter of debate.
DeBrincat, listed at just 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, is coming off another stellar season with the Erie Otters. In 63 games, he scored a whopping 65 goals with 62 assists. For comparison, the second-most goals in the league was 48, by Sudbury’s Dmitry Sokolov.
With those offensive totals, one wonders if DeBrincat might be able to replace Artemi Panarin on Patrick Kane‘s line. After all, Panarin’s not a big guy, either, and he had great chemistry with Kane and Artem Anisimov.
“It’s going to be a big summer for him,” Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman told the Chicago Tribune in February. “If he can get his strength up to NHL-caliber, no question he has the ability. He has that innate sense of how to get into open areas and score goals. That’s probably an overlooked talent. You can’t really teach that. It’s an instinct and he has it.”