When you take time to look at what new Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has been able to accomplish in his first months as the helm of the team, you start being scared of what might be coming next for the Canadian club.
And as you should, if you are not a Maple Leafs fan.
After pulling off the move of the offseason, by convincing coveted free agent and superstar forward John Tavares to sign in Toronto, Dubas may not be done with. According to NHL insider Elliotte Friedman, the Maple Leafs might be trying to pull off yet another blockbuster move this offseason.
It seems like the Leafs might be going after Artemi Panarin. Yes, you read right.
The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline reported that Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen and his star forward met briefly to discuss terms of a new contract during holidays in Paris, France, but reportedly made “no progress.” According to the team insider, the 45-minute meeting has resulted in a strong ultimatum from the star player, who wants all business matters pushed aside as of Sept. 13.
Based on Panarin’s reluctance to sign a contract extension at this time and his unwillingness to talk contract after Sept. 13, Friedman believes the Blue Jackets are seriously looking at trading the Russian forward in the coming weeks. While Friedman won't guarantee a trade will take place, the Jackets are are serious about looking into it and the Leafs could show interest in Panarin.
While the Leafs can’t afford to extend Panarin, Friedman wonders if they’ll take a shot with him for a year. The superstar forward could replace the newly departed James van Riemsdyk, who signed with the Philadelphia Flyers, however, Toronto probably cannot afford to keep him after that. The question remains what would be the Blue Jackets' asking price - would they go after William Nylander or Mitch Marner?
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, and it remains to be seen if the Maple Leafs are the right answer to Columbus' plans.
Panarin was one of the biggest turning point in the Blue Jackets' recent success and Dubas might want to bring him on board - even if it's just for one season - to make a successful push to a Stanley Cup.