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Joel Quenneville not worried about Artemi Panarin’s looming bonus

Artemi Panarin has 28 goals and 46 assists in 79 games. (AP Photo)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The way Joel Quenneville sees it, Artemi Panarin’s looming $1.725-million bonus is the price of success.

“I like when players are successful and they meet their goals,” Quenneville said after Saturday’s morning skate in Columbus. “We’ll do everything we can to help them be the best they can. That’s our motivation here.”

In other words, there was zero chance the Hawks would sit Panarin for a mostly meaningless season finale. Not only would it send a terrible message to future free agents, but it would be a slap in the face to a rookie who has been one of the Hawks’ best players all season.

And Panarin took advantage, all but locking up his second bonus (he already had earned $850,000 worth of bonuses for lesser achievements) with two goals and an assist in the first period Saturday night. Panarin simply needed to finish in the top 10 among forwards in goals, assists, points or points per game to trigger the bonus. He entered the night ninth in points (one ahead of St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko and Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar, both of whom would need to post two more points than Panarin in their respective finales in order to bump Panarin out of the top 10), and just .01 points per game out of the top 10.

About $2.3 million of the combined $2.55 million in bonus money will count against the Hawks’ salary cap next season — on top of Panarin’s $812,500 annual cap hit.

Without Panarin producing at such a high level, who knows if Patrick Kane has the career season he’s having, and who knows where the Hawks would be in the standings. It’s better to have Panarin earn the bonus that will put a sizable dent in next season’s salary cap than to not have him play so well.

“The other stuff sorts itself out,” Quenneville said. “It doesn’t help us, but at the same time, we don’t mind having to deal with those types of issues.”

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com
Twitter: @marklazerus