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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.
🚨 Panik with the patient placement of the puck *chef’s kiss* pic.twitter.com/ipCF1PSRFr
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 7, 2020
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.
Richard Panik also picked up an assist on Dowd’s goal. He now has points in four straight games (1g, 4a).
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) March 7, 2020
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