Could the Blackhawks sit Panarin down the stretch to save some bonus money?
Artemi Panarin has been nothing short of sensational for the Chicago Blackhawks this season. I know, I know, tell you something you don’t already know. Well here’s some interesting news that you may not have known; Panarin’s contract is incentive laced and those incentives could affect the Blackhawks salary cap number hit next season if he hits them, and not in a good way. I bet some of you didn’t know that. Let me explain what I mean.
Panarin’s base salary is $812,500 for this season and next. Lets get that part out of the way because everyone can see that. His bonus structure on his contract is laid out like this:
-Games Played Bonus total of $225,000 in 2015/16: $25,000 for five games played, $200,000 for ten games played.
-Schedule A Bonus, maximum of $850,000: $212,500 for any of the following achievements – top six forward on Blackhawks in ice time (total or average, minimum 42GP); 20 goals, 35 assists or 60 points; top three forward on Blackhawks in plus/minus (min 42GP); 0.73 points per game (min 42GP); All Rookie Team; reach All-Star Game; win All-Star Game MVP.
-Schedule B Bonus, maximum of $1.725 million: $1.725 million for any of the following achievements – top ten forward in the league in goals, assists, points, points-per-game (min 42GP); top five in the league in Hart/Selke/Richard voting, NHL First or Second team all star; Conn Smythe winner.
That’s a lot of bonuses, and as it stands right now, Panarin has already hit the games played bonus and he’s already secured parts of the Schedule A Bonus and others within sniffing distance. It’s the Schedule B Bonus that has the Blackhawks nervous; that’s the big one that they are afraid of.
As it stand right now, Panarin has played in 68 games, has 25 goals, 37 assists for 62 points. He’s currently tied for 12th in the league scoring race and only two points back of reaching the top 10, which automatically triggers Schedule B should he reach it once the regular season ends. It’s unlikely he reaches the top 10 in goals, assists or points-per-game (although he isn’t that far out in the ppg category) by themselves but he could still reach the top 10 in overall scoring.
If Panarin hits all three Bonus’s (GP, Schedule A and B) the Blackhawks could get hit next season with an extra $2.52 million against their cap due to these bonuses, and that’s on top of his current salary cap hit of $812,500. I mention next season because they don’t have the cap space to fit the whole bonus under the cap this year, so what ever is remaining gets pushed next season and counts towards the Blackhawks cap for next season. As it stands right now, the Blackhawks will only have roughly $275,125 of remaining cap space at the end of this season before any bonuses are paid out.
So even he misses Schedule B, the Blackhawks are still going to get a hit next year a bit but shouldn’t be nearly as bad. Any cap penalty for the already cap-strapped Blackhawks and could seriously affect their ability to re-sign current players or bring in other assets that could help them but that’s Schedule B is the key one. After recently re-signing Marcus Kruger to a nice little raise (which kicks in next season), this bonus could mean the difference between them bringing back Andrew Shaw or not, as if the Kruger contract didn’t already seal that deal. If Panarin hits this bonus, you can put the nail in that coffin.
So you are probably saying to yourself, this is all good to read and all but how does this affect my playoff fantasy team? Well if you don’t own Panarin, then it won’t affect you at all but if you do own him, you will be interested in the rest. Even if it doesn’t affect, keep reading.
Don’t think for one second that GM Stan Bowman isn’t already crapping bricks over the possibility of Panarin hitting Schedule B. He is well aware of the contract bonuses and well aware how close Panarin is to hitting these numbers. It’s also recently come to Head Coach Joel Quenneville’s attention about the bonus possibility for Panarin. One has to wonder if Bowman isn’t whispering in Coach Q’s ear, reminding him to maybe slow down on the kid or even worse, possibly scratching him down the stretch to “rest” him for the playoffs. Panarin is currently in the midst of the longest season of his professional career, having never played more than 54 regular season games during his six seasons in the KHL. Could these all be good excuses to rest Panarin down the stretch? Possibly.
Quenneville has recently been quoted after hearing about Panarin’s bonuses possibilities:
“As a coach, we’re trying to win hockey games, and we try to put guys in the best spots to have success. He’s helped us along the way and has been effective and consistent all year long. We want to see players do the best they can, and we’re not going to get in the way of success.”
Take this for what it’s worth but that doesn’t sound like he’s ready to sit the kid down yet, but the Blackhawks already have the playoffs locked up and everyone knows they are just playing out the string now with only 12 games remaining. Then again, does anyone really expecting him to come out and admit that they are going to sit the kid so save money? Or course not.
Does Quenneville take the chance on overplaying the kid? He knows his horses like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook can handle the games played; those guys are used to this by now, but is Panarin?
It’s entirely possible that Panarin will slow down on his own simply because he’s not used to playing this much, this deep into the season. It’s also entirely possible that Bowman makes a suggestion to Quenneville that may the kid could use some time off down the stretch. It’s the latter that could come into play in regards to your playoffs for your fantasy teams. If he starts getting healthy scratched to keep him fresh for the playoffs (yeah, that’s the reason) then this will certainly affect the outcome of how your team does.
It’s not out of the norm for teams to rest some of their star players down the stretch for playoff preparations and under normal circumstances; this wouldn’t be a surprise in regards to Panarin. Unfortunately, you now have another reason why this will probably happen more so than not. Keep an eye out for it, good chance it’s coming. No one gets more out of a dollar than Stan Bowman but if he can save pennies on the dollar to better his team long-term, you know he will.
At the end of the day, the Blackhawks are pleasantly surprised that he’s even in this position, but probably don’t want to pay him for it and it won’t surprise me if they find a way not to. Unfortunately for you and your fantasy team, just when you need him the most, he probably won’t be there.
Thanks for reading. Comments are always welcome and you can follow me on Twitter if you choose @chrispudsey where I am always tweeting and retweeting news and information you may find interesting.
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