Though the Blackhawks are still waiting for Artemi Panarin to return to practice, they have a pretty good idea of what he can do.
Sidelined with an upper-body injury since they left Notre Dame, Panarin isn’t expected to play in the final two preseason games Thursday in St. Louis or Saturday against Dallas at the United Center. Panarin skated before practice Wednesday and there had been some hope he could suit up in one of the two remaining exhibitions, but he and the Hawks will have to wait a bit longer.
From seeing him early in camp and knowing what he did overseas, coach Joel Quenneville is aware Panarin has plenty of skill and instincts. The one thing Quenneville hasn’t been able to do is get Panarin used to his teammates and how the Hawks play in their system.
“The things that we’d like to instill in our players and how we play without the puck and the whole package is something that we’ll get to work with him in practice and the opportunity could come up,” Quenneville said. “But certainly it’s tough to measure exactly what kind of player he is totally, but certainly we’ve got a pretty good idea what he’s capable of.”
A familiar face
It’s unclear whether Patrick Sharp will play for the Stars when they visit the Hawks, but Duncan Keith said he’ll be “shooting a few texts” to his former teammate.
“It’s always different playing your old teammates and guys you were close with,” Keith said. “Obviously we have a lot of memories with Sharpie. It’ll be weird seeing him in a different uniform but I think he’s going to add a lot to Dallas and I’m sure they’re happy to have him.”
Sharp was a victim of the Hawks’ salary-cap purge and was sent to Dallas with prospect Stephen Johns for Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt. The Hawks went through a similar summer in 2010 and other Cup winners have played in Chicago, though Keith still isn’t completely used to facing former teammates.
“It’s always a part of the game, I think, but it never really stops making it feel weird out there when you play your buddy and you play with him for a long time and all of a sudden he’s on the other team,” Keith said.
Dallas also features Johnny Oduya, who signed a free-agent deal with the Stars.
Daniel Paille – who joined Rockford on a professional tryout – drew praise from Quenneville.
“He’s going down there with I think a chance to prove that he wants to play in our organization,” Quenneville said. “Depth-wise, he could be very useful because we like his speed. Useful in a lot of ways. His experience is definitely important.”
Asked about cutting Paille despite liking his camp performance, Quenneville said there’s “not a lot of opportunity” with the Hawks but organizational depth is “something that you can never have enough.”
Meanwhile, Scott Darling is expected to play the entire game Thursday night.