The Chicago Blackhawks and left winger Artemi Panarin have agreed to terms on a contract extension, reports Scott Powers of The Athletic. The scribe notes that the deal was finalized earlier today and is expected to be announced on Thursday morning. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports (Twitter link) that it’s a two year deal with a cap hit of $6MM. He will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the contract while TSN’s Bob McKenzie adds via Twitter that more than half of the money in the deal will be in the form of a signing bonus.
Panarin, last year’s Calder Trophy winner for Rookie of the Year, is Chicago’s leading scorer this season with 37 points (15-22-37) in 37 games and sits fifth in scoring league-wide. He’s in his second year with Chicago and recently became only the 27th player in NHL history to record his first 100 points in 110 games.
Panarin is in the second and final season of his entry level contract that carries a cap hit (before bonuses) of just $925K. However, he has over $2.5MM of potential Schedule A and B bonuses that he maxed out on last season, which helped contribute to Chicago’s bonus overage this year that’s greater than $3MM. If he continues his current pace, he’ll likely max out of them again which will result in another overage for the Blackhawks next season given that the team is quite tight to the salary cap and already have a $750K bonus achieved by defenseman Brian Campbell.
Fitting in this contract may be a challenge for Chicago next year as they already have over $60MM committed in payroll, per CapFriendly before factoring in Panarin. It has been speculated that if they were to get him signed, they would have to move one of their core players in order to stay under the cap for next season. With the deal now done, GM Stan Bowman now knows exactly how much space he’ll have to try to free up between now and next October.