Some people believe that no news mean good news, however, in the National Hockey League, it is more worrisome than anything else. Especially when it's about a talented player like Artemi Panarin.
Panarin was one of the biggest turning point in the Columbus Blue Jackets' recent success, however, it seems like the happy story may be short lived. With the unrestricted free agency looming in the 2019 offseason for Panarin, the situation in Columbus has gotten complicated. A recent report from NHL insider Elliotte Friedman revealed that Panarin told the Blue Jackets that he’s not interested in signing a contract extension “at this time" and as a result the Jackets placed Panarin on the trade block.
The announcement of a possible trade surprised many, especially since the Russian has one year remaining on his current deal and is set to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2018-19 campaign. We are pretty sure GM Jarmo Kekalainen has gotten loads of calls for the talented forward and it might be weighing heavily on his mind now... given Panarin's skill and history of point production, it was expected that multiple teams would line up strong offers for the talented 26 year old sniper.
Last week, it was revealed by The Athletic's Aaron Portzline that Kekalainen himself would travel to Europe to have a one-on-one meeting with his star player.
Fans have been waiting ever since. Finally on Saturday, Kontinental Hockey League insider Aivis Kalnins confirmed that a meeting was set to take place between both parties in the next two weeks.
Some fans might be breathing a sigh of relief, however, while there is encouragement and positive signs in the meeting of Kekalainen and Panarin, Portzline did note at the time that the Blue Jackets could still move Panarin if they receive a trade offer that includes current NHL players who could have an immediate impact on the roster, as opposed to the offers that focused more of the future and young prospects like the ones they've received to date.
There is also a major obstacle that Kekalainen cannot change to convince Panarin to remain a Blue Jacket. It is recently been reported that Panarin is looking to play for a bigger market team. On Saturday, Larry Brooks of The New York Post explained this very reason:
"Artemi Panarin’s decision not to engage in negotiations for an extension with the Blue Jackets was motivated solely by his desire to play and live in a major market. You (and more to the point, he) can take it to the bank that the Rangers will be all in if the transcendent Bread Man reaches free agency next summer."
It is however something that cannot be change by the Jackets GM, even if he would like to. He will have to find persuasive arguments for his meeting with Panarin, and apparently now has less than two weeks to get ready for it.