Artemi Panarin met with Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen and contract talks did not go as planned.
As reported by Aaron Portzline of the Athletic, Kekalainen and Panarin met in Nice, France Monday morning. Dan Milstein, Panarin’s agent said there has been, “no contract progress at this time.” Which some Blue Jackets fans may find disheartening.
Panarin-who is entering the last year of a two-year $12 million contract-lead Columbus in points with 27-goals for 82-points in 81 games. This gave him a 25-point lead on the second highest point leader, Seth Jones. Panarin is not the only star player who has had tough contract negotiations, so has Erik Karlsson which has sparked a lot of trade discussion and rumors for both players. The key difference between these two situations is the team they are currently on. Columbus has lost in the first round for the past two seasons, to the eventual cup winner. Ottawa made the Eastern Conference Finals in 2017 but failed to make the playoffs this past season.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wrote in 31 thoughts on June 25, 2018, that “Draft rumblings were that Artemi Panarin’s preferences are Los Angeles, New York, and Florida.” Although many people hate rumours, these seem to have some weight. Today, Aaron Portzline in a tweet said, “no indication that Panarin is willing to negotiate with #CBJ on an extension.” This might further reveal that contract talks, and the meeting today did not go well for the Blue Jackets.
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Columbus is a team that may want to make a push for the Stanley Cup and would want to keep Panarin around for at least one more season. If he does get moved, they might look for a roster player to be part of the package coming back to keep them competitive. However, Kekelainen meeting with Panarin shows that their goal is to re-sign him. If a contract extension does not materialize in the near future, it could be the last resort for the Jackets to move him. Although it’s hard to know what was said during negotiations, the contract terms might not be the issue. If there were serious talks about moving him as far back as the draft, it could indicate that he might not want to be there.
For many Blue Jackets fans, it might be hard to see your team’s star player get dealt, but could the possible package in return be enough to change their minds? Coming off a career-high season and being only 26-years-old, a team would most likely be willing to pay a premium for a player of his caliber. Looking through history, trading star players away sometimes doesn’t work out well (Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza) but, in some cases, it does work out well (Eric Lindros and Alexei Yashin).
Columbus has been knocking at the door for a few seasons now and depending on Kekalainen’s abilities, a Panarin trade could either push the team into serious contention or push them even deeper into mediocrity.