The Rise of Artemi Panarin

Photo Credit: Bill Smith/ Getty Images

Photo Credit: Bill Smith/ Getty Images

As I was watching the Chicago Blackhawks take care of the Nashville Predators Tuesday night, I was wondering who was second on the team in total points.

If you would have told me it was Marian Hossa, or Jonathan Toews, or Brent Seabrook, I would have said probably one of those three players. However, it is none of those guys.

The answer is Artemi Panarin.

Panarin, a 24-year-old rookie from Russia, is currently second on the team in total points with 28, according to NHL.com.

If it weren’t for Patrick Kane’s unbelievable hot streak, which he extended to 23 games Tuesday night, Panarin would be the guy on the Blackhawks receiving all of the attention, in my opinion.

When the Blackhawks traded away Patrick Sharp to the Dallas Stars and Brandon Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets during the offseason, they were trading away a majority of their offense.  Last season Sharp tallied 43 points, scoring 16 goals and 27 assists. Saad had 52 points last season scoring 23 goals and 29 assists, according to NHL.com.

After losing those two players, the Blackhawks knew coming into this season they had to have one of their new faces on the team step up and produce. Many believed that would be Teuvo Teravainen or newly acquisition Artem Anisimov.

Anisimov, a 27-year-old center who was traded to Chicago in the Brandon Saad trade, has been playing good hockey for the Blackhawks. In 28 games, Anisimov has 11 goals and seven assists, according to NHL.com.

Teravainen has been decent in his 24 games he has played in. In those games, he has six goals and six assists, according to ESPN.com.

But Artemi Panarin, or what Blackhawks fans call “The Bread Man,” has been playing tremendous hockey all season long.

Through 28 games, Panarin leads all rookies in total points with 28. According to ESPN.com, Panarin is fourth in goals with nine, first in assists with 19 and first in total points, based on all rookies.

If the season ended today, there is no doubt that Artemi Panarin deserves to be NHL Rookie of the Year.

I think one of the reasons as to why Panarin has been successful in his first season in the NHL is because he is playing on the same line with Patrick Kane. When I am watching these two play together, it seems like they have been playing together on the same line for many years.

Here is a video of an example of the chemistry between Kane and Panarin in a game earlier this season against the New York Islanders.

Panarin’s passing skills, stick-handling skills and vision on the ice is phenomenal. I couldn’t believe the skills he was displaying in this video between Kane and himself.

If Panarin keeps playing the way he is, ESPN.com has him projected finishing the season with 27 goals and 55 assists, a total of 82 points.

Like I said earlier, if it weren’t for Kane’s hot start, people in Chicago would and should be talking about Panarin. Since Panarin is not a household name yet like a Jonathan Toews or Marian Hossa, it puts less pressure on himself to perform at a high level and keep playing like that at a consistent level.

It seems like every year the Blackhawks have at least one player step up that you wouldn’t think. We saw it with Kris Versteeg in his first two years with the Blackhawks when he put up 53 points in 2008-2009 and 44 points in 2009-2010. We also saw it with Brandon Saad when he put up 47 points and 52 points in back-to-back seasons for the Blackhawks, according to NHL.com. Both these players were low-key going into each season.

Panarin is special. He has all the skill sets to be a great hockey player. If Panarin stays on the same line as Kane, I can see Panarin winning Rookie of the Year.

You can follow me on Twitter @rnickels26