The Chicago Blackhawks’ offense had been suffering mightily in recent weeks, but one player has been rewarded for breaking out of his slump.
That player is Blackhawks winger Artemi Panarin, who was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week for his performances over the last seven days. In his last three games, Panarin has racked up eight points, with three goals and five assists over that span.
Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks was named the league’s Second Star of the Week, and Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matthew Murray was the league’s Third Star.
The Blackhawks’ offense was struggling to score goals on a consistent basis as the season drew closer to its end, but Panarin and Patrick Kane have helped things get back on track in the team’s last two games. Kane notched a hat trick and reached the 100-point plateau in Sunday’s win over the Boston Bruins, and Panarin added a goal and three assists as the Hawks clinched at least the third spot in the Central Division standings.
Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, Panarin’s surge lately could cost them dearly in the long run. Panarin is now firmly in the top 10 among league forwards in scoring, he will receive a bonus of $1.725 million for next season. That money will count against the Blackhawks’ salary cap number, making it more difficult for them to re-sign free agents as extensions for Artem Anisimov, Brent Seabrook, and Marcus Kruger kick in.