Artemi Panarin is going to get paid. And the way Stan Bowman framed it, it’s just a matter of when, not by whom.
Talks about a contract extension between Bowman and Panarin’s agent, Tom Lynn, still are in the preliminary stage. But Bowman was confident that a deal would get done. Panarin will be a restricted free agent next July, and Bowman didn’t sound concerned that there will be a repeat of the Brandon Saad or Andrew Shaw situations, when the Hawks had to trade away a popular and productive RFA because of salary-cap constraints.
“We’re always confident,” Bowman said on Tuesday. “You go into a negotiation expecting to get a deal done. That’s the way I’ve been in the past, and that’s the way I am now.”
Panarin, who is expected to join camp on Friday after playing for Russia in the World Cup, burst onto the NHL scene as a 24-year-old rookie last season, posting 30 goals and 47 assists while winning the Calder Trophy and helping Patrick Kane to the best season of his career. Panarin finished in the top 10 among NHL forwards in scoring, which triggered a full $2.575 million in bonuses, which has further exacerbated the Hawks’ cap problems. Panarin is too old to accept a bridge deal, so he’s likely going to command upwards of $6 million per year on a long-term contract. With Kane and Jonathan Toews taking up $21 million in cap space, and six other players making at least $4.1 million a year, it won’t be easy to make the math work.
Bowman didn’t get into specifics, of course.
“I don’t think it’s a productive thing to kind of negotiate through the media,” he said. “Obviously, Artemi’s a big part of our team. We’re excited for the season he had. We’re looking forward to him building on that this year, as well. Then the negotiations will be what they are between his agent and myself. I respect Tom. He’s a very knowledgable guy, and I know Artemi put a lot of faith in him, and Tom and I will work to get something done.”
The Hawks have come to terms on extensions in the offseason, the preseason and during the season in the past, so there’s no real sense of urgency to get a deal done by the time the season starts on Oct. 12.
“There’s no hard and fast rule,” he said. “Each negotiation is different. I wouldn’t put any timetables or handicap it one way or the other. It’ll get done when it gets done.”
Lynn also declined to get into the details of the negotiations, but told the Sun-Times he agreed with Bowman’s characterization that “it’ll get done when it gets done.”
Duncan Keith, who skipped the World Cup to focus on strengthening his surgically repaired right knee, skated again on Tuesday. He’s expected to miss at least the first four preseason games, and is status for the Oct. 12 season-opener remains in doubt.
“I feel a lot better,” Keith said. “It feels better and better. I don’t really think about it out there.”
Assistant coach Mike Kitchen said that when Keith comes back, the Hawks will try to manage his minutes better to save wear and tear on the knee. He averaged 25 minutes, 14 seconds a game last season, but his heavy playoff workload in 2015 helped lead to the current problems. Kitchen said the added depth on the blue line this season, with Brian Campbell and Michal Kempny in the fold, should help.
“We probably will try and hold him back a little bit and try and control his ice time,” Kitchen said. “Instead of being up at that average of 27, 28, maybe dropping him back there to 24. However, when you get a player like him, though, he likes to play. It’s like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, they like ice time. It’s hard to take away. They look at you, they say, ‘What are you doing? What did I do wrong?’ But I think it’s something we’ll be very conscious of.”
The Hawks will have plenty of prospects on the ice when they open the preseason Wednesday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Ville Pokka is the only one of the 10 World Cup participants who will play. The top line in Tuesday’s practice was Vinnie Hinostroza centering Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik. Scott Darling will play the entire game in goal.