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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.

Richard Panik celebrates after scoring an amazing goal earlier in 2011

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:

After signing an entry-level contract with the Bolts back on May 12, the 6-foot-1, 218 pound forward is ready to impact a Lightning team that went all the way to Game 7 of the Conference Finals with the eventual Stanley Cup champion Bruins.
Will we watching this formidable forward in highlight reels later this year? Or, will Yzerman let Panik take a little more time to develop? We can speculate, but we will have to wait and see.
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Tags: Richard Panik Ryan Shannon Sean Bergenheim Tampa Bay Lightning

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