Too Soon to Panik: Richard Panik Bouncing Back After Slow Start to the Season

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Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

When the Washington Capitals signed forward Richard Panik to a four-year contract in free agency last summer, they did so in the hopes the veteran forward would be able to provide a boost in secondary scoring to the third-line. Through the first portion of the 2019-20 season however, the former second-round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning struggled mightily to produce, leading some to question his place on the roster. However, since a move to the fourth-line, the 29-year old Panik is beginning to prove his doubters wrong.

With a multi-year contract and a salary cap hit of $2.75 million, expectations were bound to be sought by invested fans and pundits. And coming off a 2018-19 season in which he recorded 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists) and a prior 20-goal scorer in the past, it was fair to say that the veteran forward was under some pressure to perform. And while adapting to a new team was bound to take some time, in the first 30 games played of the season, Panik had recorded just six points (four goals, two assists) with a plus-7 rating while averaging 11:19 of ice time for Head Coach Todd Reirden. Some called for Panik to be held out of the lineup for a few games, others believed a trade would benefit him most. The Caps, however, stuck by their newly-acquired right wing, and are being handsomely rewarded.

With a goal and an assist in the Capitals’ Saturday afternoon win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, Panik now sits with 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 58 games played, with a plus-16 rating. In the 28 games since the time above, Panik has recorded 16 points (five goals, 11 assists), including two straight multi-point games, and points in his last four contests.

While in hindsight, Panik’s start to his first season in a Washington sweater wasn’t ideal, there’s no doubt that No. 14 has found confidence playing on a fourth-line with Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway. There’s also no doubt that, while easy to get caught in doing, his critics clearly hit the “Panik” button way too soon.

By Michael Fleetwood

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. His favorite player became former Capital Nate Schmidt after he met Schmidt in a Hershey hotel while in Hershey PA to see the Bears play, shortly after Schmidt was injured during a conditioning stint. Michael is also a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Orioles, and enjoys photography, watching WildEarth TV's SafariLive live safaris, and watching animals in his spare time. (Photo by Adam Vingan in 2014 at the Capitals Development Camp).
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8 Responses to Too Soon to Panik: Richard Panik Bouncing Back After Slow Start to the Season

  1. Jon Sorensen says:

    Must admit I was ready to move on from Panik, but his recent emergence has been huge. We need him playing like this in the postseason.

    • Marky says:

      He isn’t scoring like we want (although he’s fine now) this year but if you watch him away from the puck and defending he is more than fine. He is a fine 3rd liner if he can just improve his scoring a little next year, he will be worth the contract.

  2. steven borkoski says:

    I more than ready to move on from Panik. His salary for a 4th liner is way to high and his production and length of contract also do not fit either his production or his salary. TIME TO GO!!

  3. Clifford Keefe says:

    I still far prefer Burakovsky or Brett Connolly, for that matter, to Panik had either of those players been allowed PT commensurate with their shooting abilities but hey, what the hell do I know?

    Clifford
    SM

  4. Anonymous says:

    Do we really want a fourth liner with a $2.75m per year cap hit. Hathaway and Dowd, Panik’s fourth line mates have cap hits of $1.5m and $750k respectively. Hathaway and Panik both have nine goals on the season, Dowd has 7. Panik has more points than both of his line mates, but he spent all but the last week and a half on the second line.

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