For the past nine seasons, Chicago Blackhawk’s fans have seen general manager Stan Bowman trade away players like Johnny Oduya, Patrick Sharp, and Brandon Saad only to bring them back to the roster several seasons later. Now with the Blackhawks struggling, we could see that trend continue.
According to The Athletic’s Scott Powers, we could see the same thing happen again with the Columbus Blue Jacket’s forward, Artemi Panarin. Powers is reporting that Panarin would listen to a possible return with the Blackhawks at the end of the season.
Panarin was traded to the Blue Jackets prior to the start of the 2017-2018 season in exchange for the return of Brandon Saad. Unfortunately, Saad had one of his worst seasons with the Hawks, while Panarin continued to flourish in Columbus scoring 82 points (27 goals, 55 assists) in 81 games including seven points in six playoff games with the Blue Jackets.
After trading center Nick Schmaltz to the Arizona Coyotes on Monday, the Blackhawks no longer have to worry about paying the soon to be free agent this offseason. Not having to give Schmaltz a new contract will leave the Hawks with even more cap space to play with next offseason.
Prior to the season starting, Panarin told the Blue Jackets that he is not interested in signing a long-term deal with the team, but would consider returning to the Blackhawks. With the roughly $6M the Hawks currently have in cap space, Bowman could be looking to bring back Panarin via trade this season and resigning him to a long-term deal in the coming offseason.
Getting Panarin back on the roster would be a huge jolt for the Patrick Kane line. Despite Kane’s hot start to the season, his production hasn’t been the same since Panarin was traded away.
Kane won his only MVP award during Panarin’s first season with Hawks, scoring 46 goals and dishing out 60 helpers and with Panarin in Columbus last season, Kane’s numbers dropped tallying 27 goals and 44 assists. Obviously, still strong numbers from the premier winger but not the same as when Panarin was playing alongside him.
The Blackhawks certainly don’t look set to make a deep playoff run this season, especially after an 8-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday. However, if Bowman finds a way to bring the bread man back to Chicago and the some of the Hawk’s young defensemen reach their full potential in the near future, this move could help revitalize the franchise for several years to come.