We cannot say that it was a surprise for New York Rangers fans when the team went on a selling binge at the trade deadline in February. Team president Glen Sather and general manager Jeff Gorton informed fans with a letter than important moves were coming to the Big Apple and that the club was focusing on building a roster that would be contenders for years to come. An honest rebuilding process.
However, could Gorton and the Rangers have changed their minds now? While the team still struggles, despite bringing in new head coach David Quinn behind the bench, could they have now decided to ditch the rebuilding plan and go after a star player?
While on the air of Ottawa’s TSN 1200 on Tuesday, NHL insider Darren Dreger revealed that the Rangers were making sure to keep an eye on Artemi Panarin, who is now with the Columbus Blue Jackets but not looking to stay with the club.
“Typical of the New York Rangers, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jeff Gorton and the New Rangers are a bit more active in the second half of the season, or at least attempt to be,” indicated Dreger. “There is no way they’re not keeping a real close eye on on what’s going on with Artemi Panarin and the Columbus Blue Jackets. My sense is that Panarin, wherever his new address is - if it’s in-season or if it’s as a free agent - he wants to be either somewhere near the East Coast or somewhere on the West Coast. So I can’t imagine that he wouldn’t be interested in the New York Rangers. So there’s a name that will be attached to New York until something proves otherwise.”
Panarin, just like the Rangers in February, has been quite clear and has indicated no desire to sign an extension with the Blue Jackets at this time. He can become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Russian sniper is in the second season of a two-year, $12 million contract and will be in line for a significant raise on his next deal.
The Rangers are expected to play hard to land him, which could mean the team has now a new plan in mind for their long term success…