When the Chicago Blackhawks traded Artemi Panarin to the Columbus Blue Jackets last year for Brandon Saad, I couldn’t understand why the Blackhawks made that trade especially since Panarin scored 61 goals and recorded 80 assists and had a plus/minus of 26 in the first two seasons of his career with the Blackhawks.
I think Chicago traded him because they maybe thought Panarin was the reason why the Chicago Blackhawks did not get past the first-round of the playoffs in 2016 and 2017. Chicago felt like they could turn back the clock in the 2017-2018 season because Saad played a big role when Chicago won the Stanley Cup in 2013 & 2015.
In 75 games with Chicago this season, Brandon Saad has only scored 16 goals and recorded 16 assists. His plus/minus is -8. Saad scored 24 goals and recorded 29 assists with the Blue Jackets in 2017. His plus/minus was 23.
Panarin has scored 25 goals and recorded 44 assists in 75 games so far this season with the Blue Jackets. His plus/minus is 18. Panarin must be laughing right now somewhere because the Blue Jackets are currently on a 10-game winning streak and they have a 42-28-5 record with 89 points. Panarin has been of the reasons why the Blue Jackets are in this position.
The Chicago Blackhawks will miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-2008 season. Well I guess it wasn’t Panarin’s fault for the playoff failures the past two seasons in Chicago after all. Chicago clearly has more problems than they originally thought. They have goaltending and defensive problems. Saad’s season didn’t turn out the way Chicago had hoped.
Columbus would right now face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first-round if the season ended today. In seven career games against Pittsburgh, Panarin has scored nine goals and recorded three assists. Artemi Panarin is always dangerous against Pittsburgh and he would be the guy to lead them to an upset and beyond.
Panarin will have a big chip on his shoulder once the postseason begins. He will want to prove that he wasn’t the problem in Chicago. If Panarin is one of the reasons why the Columbus Blue Jackets hoist the Stanley Cup come June and if he also wins the Conn Smythe Trophy, it will be the ultimate middle finger to the Chicago Blackhawks.