Richard Panik agrees to extension with Blackhawks

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Forward Richard Panik, who posted career highs in goals, assists and points this season, has agreed to a two-year extension with the Chicago Blackhawks, it was announced Thursday.

Panik's new deal carries a cap hit of $2.8 million per season, according to TSN, a substantial raise from the $875,000 he made last season.

"The first offer they gave me surprised me," Panik said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. "There wasn't much thinking involved."

Panik, 26, had 22 goals, 22 assists and was one of three players on the team to appear in all 82 games this season. It was a huge jump in production from previous seasons.

"Richard made tremendous strides this past year and we were pleased with the consistency he showed throughout the season," general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. "We are looking forward to having him in Chicago for the next two seasons."

He had 19 goals and 20 assists in 151 NHL games with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs before being demoted to the American Hockey League and traded to Chicago for forward Jeremy Morin in January 2016. With the Blackhawks he has 28 goals and 24 assists in 112 games.

This past season, Panik saw extensive time on the top line with captain Jonathan Toewsand became a consistent contributor. In addition to the career high in points, he led the Blackhawks with 147 hits. But he wasn't just a grinder. He came up with some of the best goals of the Hawks season, as evidenced by the one below.

"I know how good I am and what I'm capable of and how I can play," Panik said, according to the Sun-Times. "Chicago gave me the opportunity. I wanted to repay them."

The extension runs through the 2018-19 season. Signing Panik presumes, then, that the Blackhawks will protect him in the upcoming expansion draft.

Panik's deal also adds to the Blackhawks' ever-present salary cap problem, and the team still has to bolster a blue line that looked slow in a four-game sweep at the hands of the Predators in the first round of the playoffs and will likely lose veterans Johnny Oduya and Brian Campbell to free agency.