The Toronto Maple Leafs have added another depth option on the wing, plucking right winger Richard Panik off the waiver wire after he didn’t make the Tampa Bay Lightning’s opening day roster.

The 23-year-old Slovakian, a former 2nd round pick (52nd overall) of the Lightning in 2009, has played 75 NHL games over two seasons, accumulating 8 goals and 14 assists for 22 points. His AHL production has been reasonably strong; he’s posted 93 points in 128 games with the Syracuse Crunch/Norfolk Admirals.

To make space for now, the injured Josh Leivo has been returned to the Marlies.

It kind of follows the ‘misfit toys’ theme of the offseason, as the Leafs have added another depth option on the cheap who has some skill but whose status in the League is a little uncertain.

When he was drafted in 2009, Panik was the Slovakian player who had everyone’s eye over now-Detroit Red Wing, Tomas Tatar (Panik was drafted 52nd, Tatar 60th). Panik has a good toolkit: Size, some skill, works the wall, and he can shoot.

He’s only 23, so he has time still to establish himself. 22 points in his first 75 would be nice production over a full season as a fourth liner.

Last season, Panik played 50 NHL games, with his most common linemates being Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat. He started 52% of his shifts in the offensive zone with a 48.5 CF%, which gave him a -4.0 CF% Rel.

The Cult of Hockey in Edmonton’s Jonathon Willis wrote more about him here, where the main takeaway is that many suggest his work ethic and consistency wavers dramatically.

As for sending Leivo down, it’s better to have him tearing up the AHL than seeing spot duty on the Leafs. Hopefully he can be close to a point per game player or at least a 30 goal scorer to cement himself on the team for the following season. You have to feel for the kid, though, because you can’t help but wonder what may have been if he didn’t get banged up in preseason.

As for Panik’s spot on the team? You have to figure that Carter Ashton and Matt Frattin aren’t sitting very comfortably right now.

Richard Panik Statistics

Right Wing -- shoots L
Born Feb 7 1991 -- Martin, Slovakia
Height 6.02 -- Weight 212 [188 cm/96 kg]
Drafted by Tampa Bay Lightning, Round 2 #52 overall 2009 NHL Entry Draft
Slovakia U20WJC-2072354-1|
2009-10Windsor SpitfiresOHL3399181915|
Belleville BullsOHL2712112336-12|
Norfolk AdmiralsAHL50110-1|
Slovakia U20WJC-20662820|
2010-11Belleville BullsOHL27141731330|
Guelph StormOHL2413122542-6|Playoffs612310-4
Slovakia U20 CWJC-206729121|
Slovakia (all)International4123-|
2011-12Norfolk AdmiralsAHL641922416213|Playoffs18516234
2012-13Tampa Bay LightningNHL255494-2|
Syracuse CrunchAHL512219418117|Playoffs169514593
2013-14Tampa Bay LightningNHL503101321-9|Playoffs20004-2
Syracuse CrunchAHL13381181|
2014-15Toronto Maple LeafsNHL-----|

Richard Panik Scouting Report

Instinctively finds space where he exploits good distribution skills. Good skater, despite some technical deficiencies – a bit of an ankle burner. Enthusiastic checker. Can show a lot of creativity with time and space, but struggles somewhat to create space. Quick hands and a good solid wrist shot. Rarely panics (excuse the pun) with options. Reads the play well with anticipation. Good puck protection skills.
Mckeen’s Hockey