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.
And it seems like it is exactly what Panarin wants. On Saturday, Larry Brooks of The New York Post revealed the reason why Panarin wants out of Columbus:
"Artemi Panarin’s decision not to engage in negotiations for an extension with the Blue Jackets was motivated solely by his desire to play and live in a major market. You (and more to the point, he) can take it to the bank that the Rangers will be all in if the transcendent Bread Man reaches free agency next summer."
Of course, New York is a bigger market than Columbus, but we are pretty sure Panarin wants to compete for a Cup contender, so we will have to wait and see what happens with the slow rebuilding process in the Big Apple.
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.
Which is exactly what he wants...