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Panik expected to re-sign with Blackhawks: report

Forward had eight points in 30 regular-season games after being acquired Jan. 3

by @NHL

Forward Richard Panik is expected to re-sign with the Chicago Blackhawks, general manager Stan Bowman told The Athletic on Sunday.

Panik, 25, was acquired by the Blackhawks in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs for forward Jeremy Morin on Jan. 3. He will be a restricted free agent on July 1. 

"We've had discussions, and I don't think the contract is going to be a challenge," Bowman said at the 2016 IIHF World Championship in St. Petersburg, Russia. "I think we're going to get that worked out. I think he's going to be a part of it. We're looking for him to take that next step in his career."

In 30 games with Chicago during the regular season, Panik had six goals and eight points with a plus-4 rating. He had three assists in six games in the Western Conference First Round loss to the St. Louis Blues.

Video: ARI@CHI: Panik gets loose puck, wrists it by Domingue

"He had a great ending to the season," Bowman said. "Unfortunately, our season didn't end the way we wanted. I thought he played his best hockey in the playoffs, maybe the last couple games of the season. He's one of those guys who has a lot of ability, hadn't really found the right situation. He bounced around from Tampa to Toronto, but he seems to have found a good role for our team.

"[He] can play right wing or left wing, and he's played on the first line, third line, fourth line because he's got some versatility to his game, which is what we like. He's got a great skill set. He's fast. He's strong. He's competitive. He's physical. So now we're just looking for him to put it all together on a consistent basis. Because when he brings his best game, he's a dominant player."

Panik has spent much of the first four seasons of his NHL career in bottom-six roles, but saw minutes on the Blackhawks' top line during the playoffs. 

Bowman feels he has more potential. 

"We're going to need players like him to come and really take the next step and play even a bigger role," Bowman said. "I look at what he's done, and I think he can build on that. I think there's more to that. I know he felt comfortable in the situation and in the role that he had at the end. I think he's wanting to build on that. We need some of that next year. We need guys like Richard to take that next step and really assert themselves. I know he wants to do that. I think the opportunity is there for him to seize it."

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