Rumor: Frontrunner emerges in Panarin trade talks

Well… this would certainly make things interesting.

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Despite last week’s trade between the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes involving sniper Jeff Skinner, it’s been a relatively quiet offseason on the NHL trade front. The Erik Karlsson and Artemi Panarin trades that many NHL insiders have predicted have yet to materialize, but a report from anonymous hockey blogger Eklund seems to indicate that a resolution may be forthcoming for Panarin and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Panarin, of course, has so far refused to negotiate a new deal with the Blue Jackets and is slated to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent next summer. Rather than gamble and risk losing him for nothing like the New York Islanders did with superstar forward John Tavares this past July, it’s believed that the Blue Jackets will look to trade Panarin before his situation becomes a distraction to the team.

So, where will Panarin end up? Well, if you believe Eklund it’s the aforementioned Islanders. Now, before we dig into this, it’s important to note that Eklund’s track record on reporting these sorts of things is not good. In fact, it’s a bit of a running joke in the hockey world that if Eklund reports it, chances are it WON’T happen. So… take this report with a giant grain of salt. Nevertheless, here’s the report from Eklund this morning:

Quick hit this morning….
I am hearing a lot of talk regarding the NY Islanders interest in Anteri Panarin…. 
text from a source…
“This is all on the Isles side as of now…what the jackets would want/expect back is uncertain, but the Islanders are going to be VERY aggressive in this Panarin market…It’s the perfect fit for them and Artemi…”

Hmmmm… on paper Panarin certainly seems to be a fit for the Isles. They have the cap space to ink him long term and there’s no doubt that he’d look absolutely electric on a line with 2017-19 Calder Trophy winner Mathew Barzal. Still… it’s likely that the Islanders would have to part with a significant roster player in order to land Panarin. Would the Blue Jackets have any interest in proven veterans like Josh Bailey or Jordan Eberle? Or what about youngsters like Ryan Pulock and Anthony Beauvillier? The pieces are all there, but it remains to be seen whether there’s a fit for both sides.