No doubt about it, one of the biggest factors in the turnaround of the Columbus Blue Jackets as a franchise has been the acquisition of Russian sniper Artemi Panarin. The 26 year old winger put up an astounding 27 goals and 82 points in his first full season with the Jackets after being acquired by the team from the Chicago Blackhawks last offseason.
But with unrestricted free agency looming in the 2019 offseason for Panarin, the situation in Columbus is getting tennis. 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”, as a result the Jackets have placed Panarin on the trade block.
Say what?! It’s true:
There is word today that Artemi Panarin has told CLB that he is not ready to consider an extension “at this time.” (UFA July 2019.) As a result, the Blue Jackets are testing the market for him.
Woooooow! Talk about a bomb!
Could you imagine the fallout in Columbus if Panarin is sent packing after just a season? Man… you have to feel for Blue Jackets fans. Not only has the franchise been forced to part with superstars like Rick Nash and Ryan Johansen… it looks like they may have to cut bait on Panarin, as well.
Ironically, the Blue Jackets acquired Panarin from the Hawks exactly one year ago this week, landing him in return for former Hawks winger Brandon Saad and goaltender Anton Forsberg.
Saad and the Blackhawks struggled in 2017-18, while Panarin and Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky teamed up to power the Jackets back into the postseason. After putting up 24 goals and 53 points with the Blue Jackets last season, Saad’s production fell to just 18 goals and 35 points this season in his return to Chicago.
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.
George Richards of the Columbus Post-Dispatch managed to get a quote from Panarin's agent Dan Milstein regarding the situation:
Dan Milstein, agent for #CBJ star Artemi Panarin, says it is not a ‘proper time to comment’ on reports Panarin isn’t ready to talk contract extension with Columbus nor that team is shopping their leading scorer. Panarin is UFA after next season.