By now, as hockey fans, we should all be aware of just how difficult it is to enjoy consistent success in the salary cap era. Still, year after year the Chicago Blackhawks defy the odds. Despite all of the changes over the years due to the cost of winning, the Blackhawks find ways to remain competitive. This season’s shining example of that is rookie forward Artemi Panarin, who has enjoyed instant chemistry with superstar Patrick Kane. Panarin has enjoyed life through his first 15 NHL games, producing at a point-per-game clip. He has made the transition to the big leagues look extremely easy, scoring 4 goals and 11 assists for a total of 15 points, good for 14th in league scoring.
I realized Sunday night during the Blackhawks-Oilers game that Panarin’s hot start is no fluke, as he enjoyed his first two-goal NHL contest. His markers were the difference in the game, shining a spotlight on his skill set in the process.
In the opening game of the season Panarin scored his first career National Hockey League goal on his first career shot against Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers; the 24-year-old has not looked back since. The thing is, any NHL team could have signed Panarin. The Chicago Blackhawks signed him to an entry-level contract on April 29 out of the KHL; this is just one more example of Chicago’s ability to build championship teams through scouting, drafting and development.
Panarin has become a fantasy hockey dream; this kid is relevant in all formats, especially when it comes to daily fantasy sports where he happens to be one of the cheapest assets in the industry. For example, on FanDuel I roster him every time at $3600, $600 over base salary, giving me exposure to one of the best players in the world: Patrick Kane.
Panarin looks like he’s only going to get better. He may even have an opportunity to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year in the deepest class in decades. So it’s a no-brainer: if Panarin remains available in your season-long leagues, pick him up as soon as possible.