He looks no older than a high school freshman.
Despite his 5’11” stature, Artemi Panarin could pass for a 15 year old.
Despite his boyish looks, the 24 year old winger is playing like a seasoned vet in his first year in North America. While Panarin technically is a seasoned vet of professional hockey, having played six seasons in his native Russia, this is his first season in the National Hockey League. The Korkino, Russia native bounced up and down between the KHL and MHL before finally landing a spot with SKA Saint Petersburg. He played with SKA from 2012-2015, recording 46 goals and 56 assists in his time with the team. Internationally, he won gold with Russia at the 2011 World Junior Championships, and silver at the 2015 IIHF World Championships.
On April 29, 2015, Panarin agreed to terms with the Chicago Blackhawks on a two year entry level contract. Panarin was put on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov (who came over in the trade that sent Brandon Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets), and scored a goal on the first shot of his NHL career in the opening game of the season against the New York Rangers. At the exact halfway point of the season, Panarin is 22nd in the NHL with 15 goals, 14th with 23 assists, and tied for 9th with 38 points overall. People will say that it isn’t that hard to put up points when playing with Patrick Kane, who is in my opinion the most skilled player in the world right now, but by watching the games you can see that Panarin had as much of an affect on Kane’s ridiculous 26 game point streak as Kane has had on Panarin’s point total.
At the young age of 24, Panarin is still getting better and better. If the Blackhawks can avoid the salary cap purgatory that has been haunting them ever since the 2010 season, they will make Panarin a member of this team for a long time. This past offseason saw the departure of longtime Blackhawk Patrick Sharp to the Dallas Stars. In Panarin, the Hawks seem to have found a successor who has the potential to be significantly better, and is currently a decade younger. Kane, Toews, Hossa, Teravainen, Keith, Seabrook, Crawford, and Panarin. I love hockey, and I love this team.