Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.
Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.
“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.
The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.
Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.
There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.
The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.
That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.
In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.
Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.
Muzzin projected to play in opener, Greene still up in the air
The Los Angeles Kings’ defense might be in a solid state going into the season after all.
They suffered a scare on Sunday when blueliners Jake Muzzin and Matt Greene suffered upper-body injuries, but while the Kings didn’t initially provide much in the way of information about their status, the latest news about Muzzin has been encouraging.
He has missed four straight practices, but Muzzin did skate on Thursday and expected to be available for the Kings’ season opener on Oct. 7. Getting him back is very important for the Kings as he often plays alongside Drew Doughty and provided them with an average of 22:41 minutes per game last season.
Greene’s situation is murkier though. He hasn’t participated in a practice since the injury either, but his absence is more problematic because he had already missed part of training camp due to an illness. In total, Greene has been limited to 10 minutes of preseason ice time, so he might not be able to recover and get back into game shape before the season opener.
If Greene is unavailable, it would be a setback for the Kings, but a more modest one as he played in a limited role last season.
PHT Morning Skate: NHL 16 simulation predicts championship for Anaheim
If training camp for young players is all about standing out, then Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen certainly accomplished that late in the second period of tonight’s game, albeit in a scary way.
Virtanen was in front of Edmonton Oilers goalie Cam Talbot while the Canucks worked to take advantage of a power-play opportunity. Yannick Weber fired a shot towards the net, but it struck Virtanen in the face. Virtanen went down as the deflected puck went over Talbot’s shoulder.
Virtanen left the ice after that incident, although he waved to the crowd as he did so, earning a round of applause from the crowd in Edmonton, per the Vancouver Province’s Jason Botchford. He was able to return to return for the third period.
He also earned an assist earlier in the game. The 19-year-old forward, who was taken with the sixth overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, is in the running for a roster spot.