Report: Blackhawks close to signing KHL standout Artemi Panarin

Mark Blinch / Reuters

The Chicago Blackhawks are apparently about to add a KHL champion to their roster.

The Blackhawks, who begin their second-round playoff series against the Minnesota Wild on Friday, are the front-runners in the bidding war over Artemi Panarin, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman. Friedman says Chicago has an edge on Canadian franchises like the Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs, who all have interest in the forward.

Panarin made waves on the international stage when he scored the gold-medal winning goal for Russia against Canada in the 2011 World Junior final. He joined SKA St. Petersburg in 2013 and became an All-Star in 2014-15, leading the team - that includes Ilya Kovalchuk - with 62 points and adding 20 points in 20 playoff contests to help SKA capture the Gagarin Cup.

The 23-year-old has 183 points in 263 KHL contests. He has at least 20 goals in each of the last two seasons. There are no guarantees his offensive talents will translate to the highly physical North American game, but a team like the Blackhawks have the scoring depth to ease Panarin into a productive role if he earns it.

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Report: Blackhawks close to signing KHL standout Artemi Panarin
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