Fans might have been discouraged by Tuesday's news from The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline that Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen and star forward Artemi Panarin met briefly to discuss terms of a new contract during holidays in Paris, France, but reportedly made “no progress.” However now, the same fan base is taking another blow with Portzline's breaking news report on Thursday.
According to the team insider, the 45-minute meeting has resulted in a strong ultimatum from the star player:
"Panarin informed Kekalainen that he wants all business matters pushed aside as of Sept. 13, the day training camp opens in Columbus and across the NHL. Panarin’s agent confirmed this to The Athletic on Thursday.
“Artemi loves hockey,” his agent, Daniel Milstein said. “He hates the business side of hockey.
“When the season starts, the focus can only be on playing. He’s going to play his best and give his best to the hockey club.”
The Sept. 13 ultimatum — first reported in a Milstein interview with sovsports.ru, a Russian website — requires some explanation."
Panarin, of course, is slated to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent in 2019, so in that sense his deadline remains unthreatening. However, rather than risk losing him to free agency for nothing, Kekalainen is expected to shop Panarin on the trade market for the best available return.As for his potential destination, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman reports that the rumblings around the draft indicate that Panarin has three preferred localities:
Draft rumblings were that Artemi Panarin’s preferences (in no particular order) are Los Angeles, New York and Florida.
Obviously the Blue Jackets have yet to consummate a deal with either of those three teams and Panarin remains in the team’s plans for 2018-19, but it must be frustrating for both the team and its fanbase to head into a pivotal season with so much uncertainty. Panarin was one of the biggest turning point in the Blue Jackets' recent success and it appears now we are growing further apart from a repeat.
As reported by Portzline, if Panarin insists upon the Sept. 13 deadline, the Blue Jackets could have less than two months to make their best trade, or at least the trade that helps them most in the short term. Kekalainen, reached in Finland on Thursday, declined to comment on the situation.
With this bold ultimatum, we might see a blockbuster deal for Panarin sooner rather than later...