The Forum’s home-team locker room will have a few new occupants, and one player I believe will get a chance to prove himself this coming season (and, earn a permanent locker stall) is winger Richard Panik.
The twenty-year old Slovakian, has been a reliable point producer, sporting a venerable .921 points per regular season game over his career. Drafted #52 overall by Tampa Bay in the 2009 NHL entry draft, Panik was first drafted #10 overall in the 2008 Canadian Hockey League import draft by the Windsor Spitfires. He is known as a good skater with very good puck control, but one who also needs to work on developing his defensive skills. And, he may just get the chance to develop those skills at the NHL level as early as this season.
With the departure of playoff surprise, Sean Bergenheim, and the uncertainty surrounding Teddy Purcell’s future with the Bolts, one could begin speculating on the young Panik’s likely future. Yzerman did recently sign one-time Stanley Cup champ, Ryan Shannon (who plays both center and right wing), and this could be a sign of how things are progressing with the team’s RFA’s. More importantly to Panik though, is if this new addition will prevent him from making the permanent jump to the “league” this year.
As per Clark Brooks of RawCharge.com, the loss of Bergenheim does create the opportunity for Panik, and I agree with Brooks comment below: