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Finding talent: Pens should look to Russia and try to sign Artemi Panarin

The Pittsburgh Penguins need more skill and don't have a ton of trading chips. However the is an option out of the KHL in Russia that could help add some talent to the team.

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins need more talent, and not a lot is in the pipeline right now. Can 2014 first round pick Kasperi Kapanen make an impact in the NHL next season? Perhaps, but he's still rather young (won't be 19 until June) and his weight/physical development might not be quite ready either.

Chris Kunitz will be 36 years old and had a major scoring slump. He might be back, but can he play top 6 minutes and produce points?

A 23 year old Russian player named Artemi Panarin should be a player the Penguins not only explore, but heavily try to recruit.

Back in March, Elliotte Friedman said:

Speaking of Russia, NHL teams are scouting Artem Panarin, a 23-year-old forward with St. Petersburg. He led them in regular-season scoring (ahead of Ilya Kovalchuk) with 26 goals and 62 points in 54 games. Panarin wants to play in the upcoming world championship, so he’s not coming now, but whoever gets him can sign him to a two-year, two-way, entry-level contract.

Panarin also scored 20 points in 20 playoff games on SKA's run to the championship.

Hockey's Future says of Panarin:

Oddly never drafted despite sporting an impressive resume, Artemi Panarin is a technically sound player with great skating abilities, an excellent nose for the net, and a magician’s hands. He has also proven to be a very clutch player. Panarin was ranked fifth in KHL scoring with 62 points in 54 games. Like Moses, however, Panarin lacks size which may be challenge if he decides to cross the ocean.

Most scouting reports list Panarin at around 5'11 and 170 pounds, which isn't that great, but if his hands are good and he's smart, he can play at the NHL at that size. Look no further than guys like Carl Hagelin, Mats Zuccarello, Tyler Johnson and Johnny Gaudreau who are all smaller than that but still are great young players in the NHL.

As of January, Russian Machine Never Breaks had information that Panarin was considering a jump to the NHL. Internet reports have said his KHL contract ends on April 30th, and while you never know if he will be persuaded to stay in Russia -- on a championship team with a huge budget -- the lure of America could strike.

The Penguins should be interested. They need skill players. Hopefully Evgeni Malkin can convince this young Russian to take a chance on Pittsburgh. The Pens would be a great landing place for him, being as he could tryout as a skill player on a scoring line and hopefully make a big impact.

The Pittsburgh Penguins need to add skill and talent, and there aren't a ton of options open given their salary cap situation and lack of trading chips. Panarin might be more Vladimir Vujtek than Vladimir Tarasenko, but as a free agent signing on a two-way contract, he's more than worth the gamble. We don't know if the Pens will make a push for Panarin or if the youngster even intends to come to America, but they should definitely try to find out.

And now, since it's 2015 and the internet rules, how about a youtube highlight reel? Seems like he scores a lot of goals from the left side, as a right-handed shot. Definitely some nice dekes and hands. Hopefully the Pens make it happen, low risk potentially a good return.