The Ottawa Senators are expected to be active in free agency this summer and one available winger could be an interesting option for the team.
The Senators aren’t likely to target any big-name players in free agency, preferring to take their time with the rebuild and work at developing their prospects while aiming to add the highest possible draft picks.
So any players Dorion targets in the summer will be players typically viewed as depth options for most teams but could provide the Senators with some value in the short-term.
Panik is currently away on international duty with Slovakia, where he has had a strong World Championships – registering a goal and six assists in six games for his country.
This is a significant performance after a season where he narrowly missed out on reaching the playoffs with the Arizona Coyotes.
The 28-year-old winger would be an interesting target for the Senators to consider this summer in part due to his potential for scoring goals while also being a relatively cheap option.
Panik’s most recent contract held an annual cap hit of $2.8 million, which is the highest of his career, and he isn’t likely to get more than $3.5 million in any future deal – no matter which team is offering.
He is capable of playing on either side of the wing, providing some flexibility, and could be an interesting partner alongside fellow former Coyote Mikkel Boedker – partnering a goalscorer with a playmaker on the third pairing that could cause some problems for opposing defences.
Panik’s inconsistent play last season did see the Coyotes flirt with potentially trading the former Tampa Bay Lightning second round pick.
But he was retained and played an important role as Rick Tocchet‘s team attempted to sneak into the playoffs for the first time in seven years.
His decent size of 6-foot-1, 208lbs is used fairly well with Panik throwing an impressive 137 hits last season, with the Slovakian also somewhat driving the play while wearing a Coyotes jersey.
He started in the defensive zone (50.2%) marginally more than the offensive zone (49.8%) for the defensive-minded Coyotes, but still managed to post a 50.8% Corsi rating.
He would provide the Ottawa Senators with some value that could eventually be traded if he is able to find his goalscoring touch once again – making him a viable option to move at the trade deadline if the organisation feel they can get value for him that will contribute more to the rebuild.
At 28 years old, he still has plenty of hockey left in him and if the team decide he’s worth more on the roster then a two-year deal could see him contribute to the rebuild in the short term before eventually moving on when prospects begin to overtake him in the line-up.
While not an overly attractive name, Panik would be a player that provides the Ottawa Senators with value and quality further down the line-up.
What do you think Sens fans? Would Panik be worth bringing on board in the short-term? Which other free agents should the team target during the rebuild? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!