Thursday, July 2, 2015

"Things You Oughta Know"
Panarin, Tikhonov, and more

by Gatekeeper

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the "Grumpy Gate and Petulant Pat Team Miserable show", starring Gatekeeper and Patrick Stankus.

It pains me to have to be in this situation and have to explain this every year, but it seems as though the average Joe SportzIdiot just simply NEVER LEARNS. It's not just Hockey fans and it's not just in Chicago. Sports fans, in general, are some of the biggest slobbering morons on this planet. There are the select groups that actually come to this wonderful tool called the intarwebz to research and form educated opinions, and there are the rest. Probably 70%, at least. The remaining 30% are the people that probably reading this right now, with a handful of the shaved down gorillas sprinkled in, who somehow mistyped "uhhh, big bewbz". You are here because you're interesting in knowing more. I admire and respect that. I want to know more, too. If I could spend entire days listening and reading people like Chris Block, Al Cimaglia, and Jay Zawaski, I would. They make me a smarter person with their knowledge. This is not to say I agree with everything they say, but a healthy majority has proven to be spot on. Do yourself a favor; or favour if you're from Canada. Stop reading garbage like HockeyBuzz and The Hockey Writers. Focus your attention on people with real proven knowledge. If you continue to read our stuff here, thank you. None of us are always right, but we try to provide intelligent, pragmatic analysis.

Other than Pat. He just gives drunken rants on cheap gutter swill craft beer.

All that aside, there are some things that need to be hashed out about this Blackhawks team. The casual fans are flipping their fucking lids over a number of topic that need to be put to rest so, please, allow me be the asshole.

First of all, I want to direct you to a couple of articles I have published over the years:

Kyle Baun and Mike Paliotta Will Disappoint......Ahhh Nevermind
Teuvo Teräväinen Will Disappoint You All
Marcus Krüger will Disappoint You All

Notice a theme here? Get ready for this next one. Hold your disgust until the end, please.


Much like those past pieces, the title alone will get me 20 hate laced messages, because "READIN IZ HARD!".

These two "heralded" prospects from the KHL will be attempting to make a name for themselves, and earn a spot on the Blackhawks come this September. Let me tell you precisely why you will all be disappointed at what will happen. You expect too much! You expect WAY too much from these players!

Lets begin with young Artemi Panarin. For those that have been a Stanley Cup celebration fog for the last 2 weeks, the 23 year old Panarin was the 4th leading playoff scorer in the KHL last season, as well as the 5th leading scorer in the regular season. Nice accolades, for sure, if you look purely at the numbers. Let's not forget that this is the KHL. The KHL boasts high flying former NHL players like Alexander Radulov, Stevie Moses, Kevin Dallman, Maxin Afinogenov, Evgeni Dadonov, Deron Quint, Brandon Bochenski, Jonathan Cheechoo, Linus Omark and a player all Blackhawks fans remember, Alexander "The Alligator" Salak. Impressive right? I know you are all quite impressed with this esteemed and well decorated list.

Lets pause for a second to let all this sink in...


Every one of those players was either kicked out of, or unwanted by, the NHL. Most players, in fact, weren't even good enough to be in the NHL. All of these players listed, by the way, are in the KHL league leaders. There is one player in the KHL, however, who had a pretty decent NHL career; Ilya Kovalchuk. He's only over there slaying bums so the Devils don't get smacked with a big heavy sack of "Cap Recapture", while making basically ALL the KHL's money, however. This is an inferior league, people, plain and simple. It is equivalent to the AHL playing on a bigger ice surface. Panarin pulled a Spencer Abbott. Possibly, a Martin St. Pierre. Temper your expectations. The funniest part of this whole experience is this "Russian Patrick Kane" comparison. A more accurate comparison would be "AHL's Patrick Kane", because that is what his skill set is more equivalent to. Sorry to break it to you, and be as mad as you want, but that is the truth. If you expect Antemi Panarin to both make the team, and score more than 35 points next year, you're huffing paint. This past Tuesday night on the Bill Swersky Sports podcast, Chris Block mentioned an excellent comparison, which is Kris Versteeg. I think he needs to be applauded for this. Next spring, it'll be apparent how right he was.

Based on his salary, this is a win for the Blackhawks. I'm not saying that replacing Versteeg with a younger, cheaper player is bad, at all. If fact, it makes sense in so many way, the first of which is that Kris Versteeg SUCKS! But, expecting him to come in and be anything more than an affordable mid-level depth guy, with the ability to add some occasional secondary scoring is completely irrational. There is a reason he was never drafted, and there is a reason he signed a deal that is under $1 Million a year. Think about it. He is just simply not worth any more than that. If, by some miracle, he breaks out, the reported performance bonuses will reward him. It is not clear what the bonuses actually are, but maybe we will find out. Remember, folks, temper expectations.

Viktor Tikhonov is in the same boat, just 4 years further down the river. He is 27, and has already taken one shot at the NHL. He played 61 games with Phoenix, in 2008 as a 1st round draft pick. He registered 16 points in 61 games. Excited yet? He is less than a point per game (0.63) in the KHL, and was at roughly .5 points per game last season. Roughly in the area of what Brandon Mashinter, or Dennis Rasmussen did in Rockford last season. Again, riveting, right?

Once again, there is a reason he signed a deal for roughly what David Rundblad is going to make next season. That is what he's worth. These two guys, if they make the team, will be 3rd line guys. They may get the occasional fill in shifts with the money guys, but don't expect it. Tikhonov will be lucky to have 25 points this coming season. Don't say I didn't warn you.

You hate me don't you?

Now let us move on to the important parts of the smoldering pile of flesh that was Brandon Saad. Artem Anisimov, and Marko Dano. Anisimov is a 27 year old, big center. Great news for the Blackhawks. Second line center for the next 6 years, right? If he doesn't get locked in Quenneville's doghouse, that is. The Blackhawks have been reportedly been trying to acquire this player for years. Swell.

I cannot fault them for attempting to fill that spot. It has been a huge hole the entire time Stan Bowman has been the leader of this evil empire. But, for a second, let's remember all the centers that have been brought in to be THAT guy. It may take a while. We cannot assume Joel Quenneville will play him there, just because the greater majority of us think that's where he belongs. THE MAN HAS #3CUPZ FOR HEAVENS SAKES! He knows much more than us uneducated meatball fans do, and he will show us this, even if it costs Game 3 of the quarter finals.

We need to see where the decision maker puts him. Theoretically, he should certainly be the second pivot to open the season on October, though.

After Anisimov, the Blackhawks also acquired the person that might eventually be the pickup of the summer. Slovakian forward Marko Dano. He played 35 games with the Jackets and had 21 points. That is honestly pretty damn impressive, especially for a 20 year old European player. Granted, if he was drafted by the Blackhawks, he would still be in Europe and you all know this. Dano IS a slightly bigger Teuvo Teravainen, just drafted a year later. He has played and proven he can contribute against actual NHL talent, which the two Russians haven't. He is younger, and was scouted well. The upside is much more promising for him. This is to say that Quenneville doesn't monkey with his ego by throwing a lasso around his neck and beating him into submission. After watching his goals from this past season, it seems as though he plays very well with Artem Anisomov, so we must keep this in mind. It may be best served, if Dano and Anisimov are paired together on the 3rd line. Just a thought, and what do I know? Since I only evaluated talent and chemistry at a High School age level for roughly a decade, clearly I know absolutely nothing about these unusual adult hockey creatures.

Take a look at his 8 goals from this past season, along with a highlight reel assist on a Scotty Hartnell goal:


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