Retired Russian forward Pavel Bure believes rookie forward Artemi Panarin of the Chicago Blackhawks and third-year forward Evgeny Kuznetsov of the Washington Capitals have the ability to dominate the NHL for years to come, Bure writes in his blog for NHL.com/ru, the League's Russian language website.
Bure, who scored 437 goals and 779 points during a 12-year NHL career with the Vancouver Canucks, Florida Panthers and New York Rangers, will make regular contributions to NHL.com/ru.
"I am happy for Panarin and Kuznetsov," Bure said in the article. "They both dreamed about making it in the NHL and they have done very well thus far, but at the same time both of them are still continuing to develop. It may sound crazy, but I know those two guys can play even better. They possess enough skills to become a dominating force in this League."
Kuznetsov, 23, is playing at nearly a point-per-game pace for the Capitals, who hold the top spot in the Eastern Conference. He has nine goals and 28 points in 30 games and seems poised to obliterate his career-high of 37 points, set in his first full season.
"It took a little while for Kuznetsov to adjust in the country and in a League that was completely new to him," Bure writes. "But he was a leader everywhere he had ever played. So eventually he adapted to the system [coach Barry] Trotz implemented in Washington. [Kuznetsov] was also lucky to be on the same team with Alex Ovechkin, who should get credit for helping him find his game."
Panarin, 24, joined the NHL this season after a successful run in the Kontinental Hockey League, including 46 goals and 102 points in 105 games with SKA St. Petersburg during the past two seasons. He has slotted in seamlessly in his first season with the Blackhawks, playing on a line with Patrick Kane and scoring 29 points in 32 games to put an early claim in for the Calder Memorial Trophy as the League's best rookie.
"Panarin made the transition to the team that won three Stanley Cups in six seasons look effortless," Bure writes. "This alone shows what a special talent he is. Plus, the style of hockey that the Blackhawks play is tailor-made for Panarin. It is not surprising that he leads all rookies in scoring and is capable of winning the Calder Trophy this year."