“Hey Artie, are you coming back next year?
Tell me if you’ve heard this before…the Blackhawks are in Salary Cap hell. Same story, new names. The Blackhawks have lost more talent thanks to the Cap than many teams have developed over the last decade. This time it’s Panarin. I get tweets about Panarin and his next contract almost daily. I know his deal is up, you know his deal is up. Some people like to talk about it and analyze how much will get, who will be traded to make room, etc. I’ve chosen a different approach.
Just run away, never talk about it, and hope the problem goes away. It’s called “being Irish”. However, with the Board of Governors meeting last week and Craig Custance writing a piece about it last week and another one today I think it’s finally time to address it here. I prefer to just appreciate the team we have now, because its fun to watch and we are in the middle of the dynasty run that was beyond everyone’s wildest dreams when they drafted Toews 10 years ago. Worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. But I realize I’m in the minority with that thinking so I guess it’s time to have a frank discussion about the Blackhawks and the future of Panarin.
What’s Panarin Going To Get?
There have been rumors floating around since the summer with a wide range. The initial reported ask by Panarin was 6 years and $36M. In my opinion that’s an EXTREMELY team friendly deal for a guy that is 25 years-old and an obvious superstar. However, I would also be shocked if Panarin excepted that deal. Johnny Gaudreau just received 6 years and $6.75M as an RFA from the Flames. Given their age, size, and somewhat similar physical stature, that’s about as good of a comp that you could find. Now, the Flames had the luxury of playing hardball with Gaudreau. GMs around the league knew the Flames had the ability to match any offersheet if it came to that. As we saw with both Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw, the Blackhawks do NOT have that ability. Other GMs have Stan Bowman over a barrel because of the Hawks’ cap situation. I would assume that Panarin will ask for, and receive a contract with an AAV of $7M.
What Does That Mean For The Blackhawks?
Plain and simple, the Hawks are screwed. If they manage to sign Panarin, it means someone else will have to go. The most common name thrown out there as a potential trade is Brent Seabrook.
People are WAY to ready to trade Seabrook. It may be the only option if you want to keep Panarin, but it is NOT a good option. I want you all to take a look at this blue line for next year real quick
What is one of the deepest defense groups in the league in 2016-17 has a TON of question marks for 2017-18. Kempny, who has been just okay so far this year, is an RFA. Campbell is a UFA. He took a sweetheart deal to come home this year, but he could walk for one last nice paycheck, or he could simply retire because he’s about 70 years-old. Rozival…he’s might not live to next year he’s so old. Forsling looks promising, but he is NOT ready to step into Seabrook’s role of playing high 20s minutes in all situations in the playoffs. TVR could be in Las Vegas thanks to the expansion draft. Now remove Seabrook from that group and you’re left with a painfully thin team on the backend. Who steps in? Pokka(also an RFA)? Gustafsson? I don’t think so. Svedberg…HELL no. It’s going to be extremely difficult to replace Seabrook on the ice if he ends up waiving his no-movement clause to facilitate the Blackhawks. It’s also going to be very tough to replace his leadership. Jonathan Toews is the Captain of the team, but Brent Seabrook is the daddy. Little anecdote…when we went to Cup party in 2015, Brent Seabrook didn’t move 5 feet to talk to anyone. He just perched himself up in one spot at every bar. Guys came and sat with him, but sometimes they didn’t and he just sat there by himself and was totally fine. Never seen someone so self-assured. So self-confident. A throwback to the strong silent type. His leadership would be sorely missed if he were to be traded. And he obviously has the right to envoke his NMC
So Panarin Might Be Gone, Make Me Feel Better Chief
This brings me to my overall conclusion…I think Panarin is getting traded. It’s just the way it is. We’ve been through it before. People will say that the Blackhawks should get out from Seabrook’s contract because it’s gonna be a disaster when he’s 37 years-old. Well here’s an even scarier truth…the 2023 season DOES NOT MATTER. The Blackhawks are built around Toews, Kane, and Keith. When you boil it down, those are the only three guys who are truly untouchable. And guess what…Keith is 33, Toews is 28, and Kane is 28. Guys don’t get better after 30. Realistically, this train is coming to an end faster than any of us want to admit. The Blackhawks probably have 4 years to get another Cup with this group, then it’s time to start looking for the replacements for 19, 88, and 2. Maybe guys like Forsling, DeBrincat, Fortin, Schmaltz, Motte, Hartman, Hinostroza will be good enough to push this run a little further than that and follow that Red Wings model of making the playoffs for 15+ years, but more likely than not the Blackhawks will need an overhaul.
If the Blackhawks feel that Panarin puts them closer to a Cup in the next 3-5 years than Seabrook does then maybe they do trade Seabrook, but I think they will pull the trigger on a Panarin trade similar to the Saad trade. A roster player in his prime making under $5m, a draft pick, and an NHL ready prospect. I threw Pacioretty’s name out there last week because it makes sense for both teams at least on some levels.
Panarin and Seabrook are both great players, and it would hurt to lose either of them, but graveyards are full of indespensible men. The sad truth is that the end is near. Both for Panarin, and the Dynasty itself. It’s been a once in a lifetime run. This team needs one more to be truly immortalized, and I believe in my heart of hearts that they’ll get it done. In the meantime, lets just enjoy this team right now. Panarin is a top 5 most electic player in Blackhawks history and this squad is somehow still in first even though they’ve had a run of injuries to key players and have 6 rookies getting regular ice time. It’s amazing. Dynasty reign, for now.