The New York Islanders announced on Monday that veteran forward Richard Pánik will be re-assigned, but that his destination is yet to be determined. The 31-year-old was not on the team's roster when training camp started last week, and this decision was speculated as the most likely outcome.
Pánik was acquired from the Red Wings with a second-round pick ahead of last season in the deal that sent D Nick Leddy to Detroit. He played in four games for the Isles last season when the roster was depleted by COVID-19 at the start of the year, registering 1 assist while averaging 14:55 TOI. He picked up the primary assist on the first Islanders goal at UBS Arena scored by Brock Nelson versus the Calgary Flames on November 20, 2021, in Elmont.
The native of Slovakia had spent the previous nine seasons in the NHL, playing in 521 regular season games with Tampa Bay, Toronto, Chicago, Arizona, Washington, and the Islanders. In 28 games with the Bridgeport Islanders (AHL), he scored 7 goals and 5 assists before being loaned to the Chicago Wolves in March.
Panik received praise from former head coach Barry Trotz during training camp last season as a player that could be moved up and down the lineup, that be filling in on the fourth line or being moved into a top-six role on occasion if necessary. But, when acquired, the overall thought was the bottom-six veteran would provide organizational depth at forward and a veteran presence at Bridgeport.
Seemingly, something in that arrangement was no longer working for either side during last season, leading to his loan to the Wolves before the team's push for the Calder Trophy playoffs. Given the new collection of forwards expected to start at the AHL level this season, bringing him back in that role was not an option for the Isles.
A second-round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2009, Panik won a Calder Cup title as a rookie with the Norfolk Admirals in 2011-12 and was an AHL All-Star in 2013. He had his best season in 2016-17 with the Chicago Blackhawks, scoring a career-high 22 goals and career-high 22 assists.