What? Completely different skill sets. Kovalev was average size but was a magician with the puck. Panik is big and plays best when he's banging bodies and playing down low.
Based on the few great shifts I've seen Panik have at the NHL level I've been left to believe he can do a little of both. He's more physical than Alex but he has the tools to be able to take over and dominate the way Alex (maybe not AS MUCH as Kovalev could but you get what I mean) did but he hasn't figured out how to do it yet. I made the Kovalev comparison 90% because they're both maddeningly inconsistent despite their talent. That was the entire crux of the comparison. I never saw him play in the 90's but what I did see from Alex was that he was the kind of guy who would be a PPG if not better for long stretches and then just drop dead for long stretches. Not that I ever expect Panik to reach that kind of production (I see him as a 50-60 point player if he can learn how to put it together) but I compare Panik to Kovalev as a player that'll have a stretch of play and then follow it up with a terrible stretch of play. Kovalev was just outright DOMINANT when he was hot and I know with all my heart Panik can be too but I don't know if he will ever do it. If he does become that dominant player and still has his inconsistencies then maybe the Kovalev comparison will hold true except for how they play.
It's a crying shame about Kovalev given the talent he had. He was the guy that would finish a season with about 20 points less than the amount of games he played (i.e 46 points in 66 games) and then follow it up with a season where he had a PPG if not better. Given how many times it happened the man should have easily had like another 125 more points for his whole career that he never got.
At the time I wasn't really sure who else I could really compare Panik to in that they had so much talent but could never consistently string it together for an entire season. Nik Zherdev maybe?
But I agree with the consensus that Panik is going to figure it out and play well next year. The only thing stopping Richard Panik from doing that is Dick Panik.