Richard Panik: Promoted to Blackhawks Following Trade

Richard Panik: Traded to Chicago on Saturday for Jeremy Morin

A minor-league deal with big club implementations was made Saturday between Chicago and Toronto. The Maple Leafs and Blackhawks swapped AHL players, sending Richard Panik to Chicago, while Jeremy Morin heads to Toronto. 

It was announced Monday on TSN that Richard Panik will report straight to Chicago, and he’s expected to play on a line alongside Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.

Panik, 24, is a 2nd round selection by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2009. He was claimed off waivers by Toronto in 2014, and is since entering his 6th year of pro hockey in 2015-16. He also had 25 points in 33 games with the Toronto Marlies this season leading up to the trade.

Morin, 24, was taken in the 2nd round by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2009. Morin was initially traded to Chicago in 2010. He was traded to Columbus in 2014, and flipped back to Chicago six months later in 2015. He’s in his sixth season of pro hockey in 2015-16, producing 22 points in 28 games with Rockford prior to Saturday’s trade.

The immediate promotion to the big club for Richard Panik does raise questions. Toronto demoted him in 2015-16 after spending the entire season with the Maple Leafs in 2014-15. He also spent the majority of 2013-14 with Tampa Bay.

Toronto’s rebuild structure is to develop the younger players, and bring them along slowly, waiting for when they’re ready to play. Understanding to Leafs fans is that Richard Panik needed time to fine tune his game. So why is that he can walk onto the defending Stanley Cup champion, and slot in with two of the game’s elite players? Regardless of whether the experiment lasts one period, one game, or one month, it says something about the difference in player evaluation. If Richard Panik is good enough to play with Toews/Hossa, did Toronto make a mistake in their scouting report? There’s something very strange about the way this trade has unfolded.

Are Leafs fans to believe there was no room for Richard Panik on the NHL roster? What did Blackhawks scouts see in him after Toronto’s extensive evaluation?  Is Chicago simply rolling the dice on a talented prospect that hasn’t yet panned out? The Slovaks offensive upside is well-known.  It’s his play away from the puck that has long been criticized.  Maybe Chicago believes Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa’s defensive abilities can help offset Richard Panik’s shortcomings in that department?  It’s tough to gauge the thought process behind this deal, but it feels like more than your typical minor-league deal.  We’ll have to see how this one plays out for both sides.