Photo: Sporting News
The Washington Capitals announced on Monday afternoon that they have signed forward Richard Panik to a four-year contract worth an average annual value of $2.75 million. Panik became an unrestricted free agent at 12 PM ET on Sunday.
OFFICIAL | Capitals have signed right wing Richard Panik to a four-year, $11 million contract#ALLCAPS
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) July 1, 2019
In 75 games with the Arizona Coyotes last season, the 28-year old posted 14 goals, 33 points, and a -3 rating. The Coyotes acquired him along with forward Laurent Dauphin from the Chicago Blackhawks on January 10, 2018, in exchange for forward Anthony Duclair and defenseman Adam Clendening. He posted 22 goals and 44 points in 82 games with the Blackhawks during the 2016-17 campaign, when they won the Western Conference.
In 410 career games with the Coyotes, Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Tampa Bay Lightning, Panik has scored 75 goals, 159 points, and a +3 rating.
Panik, a native of Martin, Slovakia, is a versatile forward who could play on the Capitals’ second power-play unit. He averaged 1:59 worth of ice-time per game on the power-play and 1:12 per game on the penalty kill with the Coyotes this season. The Coyotes’ 85% penalty-killing efficiency was tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets during the regular season. He is a candidate to play on the Capitals’ second power-play unit.
Capitals’ GM Brian MacLellan stated that he wanted to add a two-way forward in free agency earlier this week and Panik certainly fits that bill. His 46 takeaways were tied with forward Clayton Keller for the second-most on Arizona and his 52 blocked shots were three behind center Brad Richardson for the team lead. His 137 hits ranked fifth on the Coyotes.
With Richard Panik on the ice at five-on-five last season, the Arizona Coyotes saw an increase in shot attempts within 10 feet of the net relative to the NHL average. Graphics provided by @IneffectiveMath at https://t.co/fxR3jUTvi5 pic.twitter.com/cxAx817M1g
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) July 1, 2019
Panik will likely slot in on the third-line with the Capitals with center Lars Eller and forward Carl Hagelin, taking forward Brett Connolly’s spot. Although, he can shift up and down the lineup if and when necessary. Connolly reportedly signed a four-year contract with a cap hit of $3.5 million with the Florida Panthers on Monday.
Panik, a second-round draft choice of the Lightning in 2009, will return to Arizona for the first time since signing with the Capitals on Saturday, February 15. He will face the Coyotes for the first time in Washington on Monday, November 11.
The Capitals currently have $6,735,706 remaining in cap space with forwards Jakub Vrana, Chandler Stephenson, and defenseman Christian Djoos left to sign. All of them are currently restricted free agents.
Panik is the second Czech player that the Capitals have acquired this offseason after they acquired defenseman Radko Gudas from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenseman Matt Niskanen on June 14.
By Harrison Brown