Richard Panik

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‘Yotes believe ‘unluckiness’ one of reasons for Panik’s struggles

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As you’ve probably heard by now, the Arizona Coyotes traded away Anthony Duclair to the Chicago Blackhawks last night. For the most part, fan reaction on social media suggests that the ‘Hawks did pretty well on this trade.

Since the deal went down, PHT has focused on the Duclair angle (stories you can read by clicking here and here), but it’s also important to look at what the Coyotes received for their once promising young forward.

Richard Panik is the piece that will be able to help Arizona the quickest because Laurent Dauphin will be staying in the minors for now. Panik, who had a solid season last year, has struggled pretty badly in 2017-18.

“We feel like some of it this year has just been some unluckiness,” Chayka said, per the Arizona Republic. “We still think he’s playing a well-rounded game, still think he’s doing a lot of good things that he was doing in the past.

“He’s 26 years old, so he’s still a young veteran. But he does provide some veteran experience and takes a bit of a load off some of our younger players … That’s a void we were looking to fill, and we felt that he’d be a good fit for us.”

So, let’s take a look at Panik’s stats from last year (he had 22 goals and 22 assists in 82 games) compared to this year (he has six goals and 10 assists in 37 games).

He opened the 2017-18 season with three goals in his first three games and five goals in his first nine contests. He finally found the back of the net in his last game as a ‘Hawk on Tuesday night, but he went 27 games without a goal. During that time, he was made a healthy scratch five times.

The first thing that jumps out from Panik’s stat line is his low five-on-five shooting percentage , which currently sits at 5.26 percent. Last season, he was firing at 11.76 percent during the same situation. His overall shooting percentage was 14.19 percent last year. This year, that number has dipped to 8.57 percent. Is that unlucky or is that him just coming back down to earth?

The average overall shooting percentage in the NHL last season was 9.2 percent. This year, it’s slightly better at 9.3 percent. That’s not too far off from Panik’s 8.57 mark.

In his defense, his advanced stats have all been better this year. If we take a look at his even-strength stats, the Coyotes forward has seen his CF% rise from 49.53 to 56.76, his FF% has gone from 49.41 to 53.18 and his SF% went from 49.09 to 54.06 this season (stats via Natural Stat Trick)

Those numbers might translate into him scoring with a little more regularity, but it’ll be interesting to see if he can come close to replicating the totals he put up last season.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Sounds like Duclair and Coyotes were both ready for a split

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A couple of years ago the Arizona Coyotes had a pair of exciting rookies in Anthony Duclair and Max Domi that looked like they could be core building blocks well into the future.

Today, Domi has three goals in 43 games (after scoring nine in 59 games a season ago) and Duclair is now a member of the Chicago Blackhawks following the Wednesday evening trade that sent Richard Panik and Laurent Dauphin to the desert.

For Duclair, it’s a fresh start and an opportunity to rediscover the scoring touch he had during his rookie season while playing for a team that hopes to be a Stanley Cup contender this season.

If nothing else he is going to get an opportunity to play with significantly more talent surrounding him.

[Trade: Could Duclair be Blackhawks’ next great find?]

Shortly after the trade Coyotes general manager John Chayka talked about the move and made it sound as if this was something that had been in the works for quite some time.

“It’s gone back for a few years now, where the team wasn’t particularly happy with the player and the player wasn’t particularly happy with the team,” Chayka said in a conference call, before later adding that there are a lot of factors that go into a trade.

“It’s almost been two years now that I’ve been gauging the interest in Anthony. It’s a tough trade to make since he’s obviously a very talented player. For us, it was just the determination that this was the best time to move forward.”

“There are a lot of things that go into a trade. Some of them are readily apparent. You see Anthony play and his speed and skill is obvious to everyone. There are also some things that I think should stay behind closed doors.”

Obviously, he did not elaborate on what those things were. Just a couple of days before the trade it was reported that Duclair had requested a trade.

Originally acquired as part of the trade that sent defenseman Keith Yandle to the New York Rangers during the 2014-15 season, Duclair burst onto the scene the following season by scoring 20 goals in his first full season in the NHL. He followed that up with a disappointing season in 2016-17 that saw him score just five goals and add 10 assists in 58 games.

So far this season his goal production is back on track to being where it was during his rookie season. His nine goals in 33 games would put him on a 22-goal pace over 82 games.

With Duclair now on his way to Chicago it’s interesting to look back at the Yandle trade just three years later. Along with Duclair, the Coyotes also received defenseman John Moore, a second-round draft pick in 2015 and a first-round pick in 2016. Arizona later traded that second-round pick for a pair of third-rounders (Adin Hill and Jens Looke). The 2016 first-round pick was traded to Detroit as part of the agreement that sent Pavel Datsyuk’s contract to Arizona. Arizona also received Detroit’s first-round pick that season which it used to select defenseman Jakob Chychrun who has a chance to be a pretty outstanding defenseman when healthy.

After Wednesday’s trade, the Coyotes now have Chychrun, Panik, Dauphin, Hill and Looke to show for the Yandle.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Trade: Could Duclair be Blackhawks’ next great find?

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A day after the Chicago Blackhawks made Brent Seabrook a $6.875 million healthy scratch, GM Stan Bowman made a move that reminded the hockey world that he’s still one of the NHL’s nimblest minds.

The fact that he made a promising move with the Arizona Coyotes after a Connor MurphyNiklas Hjalmarsson trade that didn’t work out very well (for either side, really) only adds icing to the cake for Blackhawks fans.

Here are the official terms:

Blackhawks receive: Anthony Duclair and Adam Clendening.

Coyotes get: Richard Panik and Laurent Dauphin.

The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reports that no salary was retained in the trade.

The biggest names here are Duclair and Panik. With LeBrun reporting that no salary was retained in the deal, it seems like it’s either a solid win or a significant win for the Blackhawks; that all depends upon how Duclair handles the change of scenery he requested.

Objectively, Duclair is younger (22) and cheaper than Panik (26). Panik’s cap hit is $2.8 million through 2018-19, while Duclair is a pending RFA with a $1.2M cap hit. The negative side is that Duclair could play exceptionally well and drive up his price, but the struggling Blackhawks would gladly deal with that “problem,” much like they were generally happy to deal with Artemi Panarin being so darn effective.

At the moment, Duclair’s production is more Panik-like than Panarin-like, mind you. There’s actually little separating Duclair’s numbers (15 points in 33 games) from those of Panik (16 points in 37 games).

Duclair’s potential, however, is what makes him very intriguing, especially for a Blackhawks team that’s found more than a few diamonds in the rough over the years.

If you’re a Blackhawks fan who’s already pleased with some elements of the deal, Sportsnet’s Jonathan Willis might make you downright giddy, as he pegged Duclair as the possible hidden gem of the trade market just yesterday:

Duclair looks pretty good at first blush. Last season, which was a mammoth disappointment, he still outperformed the team average. Over 172 games with one of the league’s worst teams, Duclair has actually been on the ice for more goals for than against, which is difficult to do. It’s a massive achievement: Arizona’s goal differential improves by almost a full goal for every hour Duclair plays versus every hour he doesn’t.

While his 2016-17 season was brutal at times, you don’t have to dig into fancy stats to find the only reasons to be excited. Duclair scored 20 goals in 2015-16, his first full season in the NHL, after being involved in the Keith Yandle Rangers trade. His 19-percent shooting percentage indicates there was some luck there, but he was very young, and still is at 22.

Now, the Blackhawks have some problems, and Duclair isn’t the defenseman they likely need the most. There’s also a chance that he’d provide the same production as Panik, as it’s worth doubling back that they’re near equals in at least the simplest stats right now.

Still, there’s an undeniable “nature versus nurture” element to this that could make it very exciting to see how a seemingly more skilled, inarguably younger player might do with more talented people around him. Not to mention a change of pace.

And, hey, at minimum he saves cash-strapped Chicago some money.

You might say Bowman’s back, although he’s been doing this for years.

Also:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Slashing crackdown, infusion of youth boost NHL scoring

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By Stephen Whyno (AP Hockey Writer)

The nets aren’t bigger, the goaltenders aren’t smaller and yet scoring is up significantly around the NHL.

Through the first two months of the season, goals are up more than 12 percent from the same time a year ago, including a whopping 14 percent increase on the power play and a 38 percent spike in short-handed goals.

”That’s what the league wanted,” San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc Edouard-Vlasic said. ”The league has done everything in their power to make there more goals out there, and that’s exactly what’s going on.”

The uptick can be credited to a concerted crackdown on slashing by issuing more penalties and a league-wide move toward younger and more skilled players. The current pace of 6.01 goals per game would be the highest since 2005-06, when a series of rule changes were put in to open up the game and get more scoring to attract new fans.

”Teams try to go for it more,” said New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, whose goals-against average is 2.66, nearly 13 percent higher than it was at this point a year ago. ”Most teams are trying to go for it, have this fast hockey, leave the zone quickly and it opens it up.”

Deputy NHL Commissioner Bill Daly said general managers are pleased with the current pace, which has lasted beyond the typical high-scoring October as defenses settle in for the season. Stricter enforcement of slashing was designed to reduce hand and wrist injuries, though it has had a positive effect on offense with defenders unable to whack at puck carriers’ sticks in an effort to stop them.

”I do think that has created certainly more room for our players to be offensive,” Daly said. ”I think over time, clearly since we increased the standard for hooking and holding and interference (in 2005-06), slashing has become a way to defend and an effective way to defend, and I think this year it’s a less effective way to defend.”

Players have noticed, even if some are frustrated at the varying degrees of what rises to the level of a slashing penalty. Every referee is watching closely.

”The last five years, you could do so much more with your stick and probably now lots of players are afraid to use their sticks,” Los Angeles Kings forward Jussi Jokinen said. ”I think everybody wants to see more goals, so scoring being up, I think it’s good.”

Everyone except maybe the goaltenders may think so, but it’s not like they’ve been terrible. Four goalies who have played at least 20 games have a save percentage of .930 or higher.

”The goaltenders, they haven’t been any better than they are right now and some of them are still getting lit up pretty good,” said Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz, who has the league’s leading goal-scorer in Alex Ovechkin.

Certainly the emphasis on slashing has helped players such as Ovechkin, Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau and New York Islanders star John Tavares, who can do wonders with even a few extra inches of space. Columbus Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson, who scored 10 goals in his first 15 games, said slashing is on everyone’s mind and ”guys are not getting (their sticks) up into the hands as much as they used to.”

Slashing and otherwise, there have been 173 more power plays than last season and teams are converting on 19.7 percent of them. Almost half the league is at or above 20 percent. The massive increase in short-handed goals has a lot to do with aggressive penalty kills stocked with offensive-minded players more likely to score.

”That’s one more thing that the power play has to worry about,” Capitals winger T.J. Oshie said. ”Now they don’t just have to worry about scoring goals. They have to worry about their turnovers, what plays they make, how risky they want to get because there is that chance if it goes the other way and it’s a 2-on-1, it could end up in the back of your net.”

Los Angeles coach John Stevens said teams are in ”attack mode” all the time now, and Trotz estimates that he spends three-quarters of time trying to figure out how to score more.

But risk is also inherent in the NHL getting younger and featuring so many rookie scorers such as Arizona’s Clayton Keller, Chicago’s Alex DeBrincat and Vancouver’s Brock Boeser. The average age of an NHL player is 27 and Daly said the number has dropped over the past several years. He said more scoring is a byproduct as junior hockey and college programs get better at making players NHL-ready sooner.

Team composition has also changed. There are fewer journeyman faceoff specialists and grinders, and more players kept for speed and skill.

”Just the mold of all teams is kind of changing: They’re going for smaller, skilled guys rather than guys who are two-way forwards and stuff like that,” said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, who is all of 27. ”These young kids have unbelievable skill, too. It’s kind of crazy how much skill. They have things they grew up getting taught how to do those things, which we didn’t have access to when we were kids.”

For all the offense so far, there are those who don’t expect it to keep happening. Goals were up through October last season and the NHL finished averaging 5.54 per game. DeBoer said teams often tighten their systems and structure after Christmas, making it more difficult to score.

”I think it’s still early to say,” Blackhawks winger Richard Panik said. ”The game is going to get tighter. It always does before playoffs.”

Blackhawks turn to Sharp – Toews – Kane amid scoring struggles

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When you’re stumped to find a solution, sometimes it pays off to see what worked before.

The Chicago Blackhawks are going with that strategy amid some scoring struggles, as NBC Sports Chicago’s Tracey Myers and others note that Joel Quenneville is reuniting a line that may inspire Blackhawks nostalgia: Patrick SharpJonathan ToewsPatrick Kane.

Some would call it going retro. Others prefer “going nuclear.”

“Right now we haven’t had the team scoring so we’re trying to get that first and maybe things will look on balance as we’re going along. But I feel if they can score and other lines can score, maybe there’s balance that way, too,” Quenneville said, via Myers. “We’re just looking at any way right now to recapture what it’s like to score because we know it’s there.”

With Brandon Saad managing one assist in his last nine games after a red-hot start to his second run with Chicago, it makes sense to shake things up, especially with the Blackhawks struggling to score at even-strength.

While there are concerns with loading up by putting Toews and Kane together rather than going with the usual plan of asking them to carry their own lines, Saad helps tie things together on a passable second trio:

Putting Saad with Artem Anisimov and Richard Panik could work, maybe.

Sharp might be the forward in the greatest need of a boost. The 35-year-old hasn’t scored a point in his last nine games and only has a goal to show for his last 11.

The Blackhawks could certainly benefit from a bump in energy and creativity, as their schedule is on the more challenging side beginning with tonight’s game against the Flyers in Philly. Take a look at the upcoming stretch:

Thu, Nov 9 @ Philadelphia
Sat, Nov 11 @ Carolina
Sun, Nov 12 vs New Jersey
Wed, Nov 15 vs NY Rangers
Sat, Nov 18 @ Pittsburgh
Wed, Nov 22 @ Tampa Bay
Sat, Nov 25 @ Florida

That’s a difficult weekend, not to mention a run of five of seven games on the road. At 7-6-2, the Blackhawks are currently in the running for a wildcard spot in the West, an experience that remains a bit foreign to this proud group (even if prognosticators have been forecasting such a regression for years now).

It’s not clear how long the Blackhawks would roll with this combination – Coach Q has made it pretty clear that he’d rather diversify his offensive threats – but it might help shake things up. If you enjoy watching those three work together, tonight’s your night.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.