Heading into yet another offseason loaded with salary cap concerns, the Chicago Blackhawks have made at least one decision official as they’ve agreed to a contract extension with winger Richard Panik.
Panik, acquired in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs in early 2016, had a strong season in Chicago, scoring 22 goals and dishing out 22 assists. As a member of the Blackhawks’ top line, Panik helped drive possession throughout the season, and even recorded his first career hat trick en route to career highs in numerous categories.
“Richard has made tremendous strides this past year, and we were pleased with the consistency he showed throughout the season,” Blackhawks G.M. Stan Bowman said in a statement. “We are looking forward to having him in Chicago for the next two seasons.”
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed by the team, but TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported that the deal was worth an average of $2.8 million per season.
There had been some speculation that Panik would be used as trade bait as the Blackhawks look to restock their farm system and stay under the salary cap in the coming year, but the team apparently views him as an integral part of keeping their championship window open. Both he and Artemi Panarin have inked two-year extensions, meaning that the Blackhawks will have to look elsewhere as they try to become cap compliant for next season.