The Chicago Blackhawks got a pleasant surprise during the 2015-16 season when they acquired Richard Panik from the Toronto Maple Leafs, and they rewarded the winger with a new one-year contract on Wednesday.
Panik, who scored six goals and eight points in 30 games with the Blackhawks, came over in a deal that sent Jeremy Morin north of the border, and he played a very versatile role for the Hawks.
He spent time both as a bottom-six defensive stopper and as a fill-in among the top six forwards, giving Joel Quenneville a great deal of flexibility through the final stages of the season.
Panik has played in 181 career NHL games, with 25 goals to his credit.
Even with Panik’s signing, it still remains unclear where he will start the 2016-17 season. He is just about guaranteed to make the opening night roster for the Blackhawks, but whether he’ll start as a first-line left winger or a bottom six forward remains to be seen.