Money above anything ultimately led to both players leaving town, but Bowman had a backup plan. He was optimistic Sharp and Saad could be replaced by two newcomers -- Artemi Panarin, a 23-year-old free agent signee from Russia, and Marko Dano, 20, who came over from the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Saad trade.
Two days of training camp scrimmages may not be the perfect simulation for NHL competition, but Dano and Panarin have done nothing to squash the Blackhawks’ high expectations for the two young forwards.
“You need change with us losing some key guys,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “We need guys that can come in and help and be a part of it and hopefully there’s some progression in their game.”
Dano stole the show Saturday as he scored two 5-on-5 goals and another 3-on-3 goal during the morning’s second scrimmage at Notre Dame. He scored on a snipe from the slot, at the net off a pass from Jonathan Toews and again around the net for the final goal.
Dano understands he’s got it pretty good by being put on a line beside Toews and Marian Hossa. Quenneville described that opportunity as winning the lottery.
“I was thinking it’s going to be fun,” Dano said. “They’re great players and there’s a lot of what I can learn from them, so I’m real excited about being in a line with them.”
Hossa and Toews have been complimentary of their new linemate.
“He’s a good young player,” Toews said. “He’s big and strong. He’s got a good shot. Obviously lots of potential there. I think for the most part is making sure he’s comfortable, he’s able to go out and play his game and he doesn’t have to think too much. You can imagine what it’s like to come in and play with a couple of top-line guys. The obvious mentality if I was in that position would be to think to get the two other players the puck all the time. You got to reassure him to just keep thinking about making the right play, and if he does that, he’ll be fine.”
Hossa said, “I got a good feeling he’s going to be really good.”
Panarin has been creating a similar buzz in the Blackhawks’ dressing room. Where Dano brings his strength and strong shot to the team, Panarin is more about finesse and ice vision. He scored one goal Saturday and set up a handful of other chances.
Panarin has mostly played with Teuvo Teravainen and Viktor Tikhonov the first two days, and both players have enjoyed the experience. Teravainen described Panarin as a “great” player. Tikhonov felt fortunate to be sharing a line with both offensive creators.
“I've played with [Panarin] before and I mean, it's pretty much a scoring chance every shift,” Tikhonov said. “And Teuvo just adds to that. He sees the ice so well, such a smooth skater, always in position. It just really makes the game a lot easier to play with those two guys. If I'm playing with him, it's good because I'll look better.”
Tikhonov has been translating for Panarin the first two days of camp, but Panarin is learning to speak English. He described playing with Teravainen as “very nice” and has a few phrases, such as “how are you?”, down.
Panarin said it was important for him to learn the language.
“It's incredibly important because he can see how everyone on the team is helping him out,” Panarin said through Tikhonov. “It's tough to communicate and he really wants to talk to them and ask his own questions. It's a little tough right now, but it'll get better.”
He better because Quenneville isn’t meeting him in the middle.
“No,” Quenneville said when asked if he knew any Russian. “I don’t plan on it.”