The Columbus Blue Jackets’ biggest offseason acquisition came to town last week and held his introductory press conference as Columbus got their first look at Artemi Panarin in an off-ice forum.
As soon as the move - which sent Brandon Saad back to Chicago - was announced, the consensus was almost unanimous when it came to what Panarin was going to bring to the Jackets - he’s going to be an instant spark plug, most likely on the top line for the Jackets, and is going to be selfish, but in a good way, and perhaps put Columbus over the top in terms of aggressiveness that will, hopefully, lead to that elusive first playoff series victory.
And, while we haven’t seen him on the ice in the Union Blue yet, there is a way to predict how effective he’ll be - by looking at what Saad did in his short time in Columbus.
In his final two seasons with Chicago, Saad averaged 21 goals (19 and 23), 49.5 assists (47 and 52) while posting an even-strength CF% of 58.2% in 2013/14 and 54.0% in 2014/15.
To compare, Panarin averaged 30.5 lamp lighters (30 and 31), 45 helpers (47 and 43) and CF% of 53.0% in 2015/16 and 55.1% last season.
In his first season in Columbus, Saad totaled 53 points - 31 goals and 22 assists - and logged a 50.4% CF%.
However, what makes predicting what we might see from Panarin so difficult is, while he’s coming from a team where he played a key role, he wasn’t the guy like he’s being considered in Columbus. And, while I’m not saying the Jackets will go as Panarin goes, much like they didn’t go as Saad went, Panarin will have a bit more pressure and expectations in Columbus to be the main source of offense.
And, while this isn’t an exact science, for kicks and giggles lets predict how Panarin will produce this year. Lets say he nets 35 goals (the same number Cam Atkinson hit last year) and dishes out upwards of 50 helpers (he’s gonna be an asset to Cam, plus Oliver Bjorkstrand will most likely be in Columbus all year and guys like Seth Jones and Boone Jenner have no reason to expect they’ll be any less productive less year).
I’m also going to predict a CF% of anywhere between 47.5%-51.0%.
Again, this isn’t an exact science, but it is fun to speculate. Hockey is almost here, y'all.
Welcome to September.