Star forward Artemi 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 seems to be getting quite complicated. According to a report from Sportsnet analyst and NHL insider Elliotte Friedman, Panarin has told the Blue Jackets that he’s not interested in signing a contract extension “at this time" and as a result the Jackets have placed Panarin on the trade block.
Things seems to be moving quickly too. On Thursday morning, KHL insider and hockey writer Aivis Kalnins has reported that Panarin could be traded before the end of the weekend. He however reiterated that Panarin might not be interested in discussing a contract extension at the moment, but nothing points that the star forward does not want to remain with the Blue Jackets.
Panarin has commented the situation, once again reported by Kalnins, stating that a contract extension at this time is not in the works, but it does not mean that he isn't interested at all.
While we understand that the Blue Jackets would prefer to sign a contract extension right now, especially seeing that Panarin put up an astounding 27 goals and 82 points in his first full season with Columbus after being acquired by the team from the Chicago Blackhawks last offseason. We get it! However, they could be more understanding and let him play part of the next season. It might be good for them as well to make sure Panarin still provides the needed offensive boost to ensure that Columbus can be a Cup contender once again.
The Russian has one year remaining on his current deal and is set to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2018-19 campaign: there is still time. Of course, the Jackets are saying they are only testing the market with the star forward, but you better believe rival teams will line up quickly for a player like Panarin!
It remains to be seen who is interested in Panarin, but given his skill and his history of point production expect multiple teams to line up strong offers for the talented 26 year old sniper. Don't be surprised if you see him on the move once more.
He seems used to it by now...