The Columbus Blue Jackets may be enjoying the success star forward Artemi Panarin is having at the moment on the roster, however, they know it is expected to be short-lived. The Russian sniper has tallied two goals and an assist in three contests already, and while his offensive talents are never put in doubt, his future in Columbus remains murky.
The Blue Jackets and Panarin have been facing a contract impasse since the beginning of the summer, as the Russian sniper informed the club he was not looking to sign a contract extension in Columbus. It is believed that Panarin would prefer to play for a bigger hockey market, and is not willing to stay with the Jackets, with whom he ended up after a blockbuster trade that sent him there from the Chicago Blackhawks. Panarin, and star goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, are entering the last year of their contracts.
According to NHL insider Elliotte Friedman, who revealed that information in his latest 31 Thoughts on Sportsnet, Panarin is now expected to use a new contract strategy and could go down the John Tavares route in summer of 2019. And we all know how exciting these sweepstakes were before Tavares decided to sign a lucrative deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1st.
"If you’re wondering who might be next to follow John Tavares’s free-agent setup, the betting money is on Artemi Panarin," writes Friedman.
Panarin broke franchise records and set career highs with 55 assists and 82 points last season, his first in Columbus. Of course, Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen does not want to lose him for nothing. However, Columbus might hold on to him for the postseason, and therefore Panarin could go down the Tavares route as he now wishes...
Recently, NHL insider Pierre LeBrun noted Panarin could choose the Erik Karlsson and not sign with any team before he gets to be a free agent, meaning that even if he gets traded in February, he would not agree right away to a contract extension. Like Karlsson with the San Jose Sharks, he could decide to play games and live in the new city before making up his mind about staying.
If the Jackets fall out of postseason contention before the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline, Columbus will probably move him to the highest bidder. However, Panarin might be more attracted to the idea of becoming the most coveted free agent on the market and raise his price up that way.