Columbus Blue Jackets: Navigating Artemi Panarin Trade Rumors with Sense

COLUMBUS, OH - FEBRUARY 6: Artemi Panarin #9 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates against the Washington Capitals on February 6, 2018 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - FEBRUARY 6: Artemi Panarin #9 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates against the Washington Capitals on February 6, 2018 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Dispelling Artemi Panarin trade rumors is an exhausting science, but common sense and a dash of hockey knowledge make it more manageable. One things is for sure. The Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t going to lose the Bread Man for nothing.

Regardless of whether you think Artemi Panarin is going to re-sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets or not, one thing is for sure. GM Jarmo Kekalainen and his staff are not going to watch the star winger walk off into the sunset empty-handed.

As it stands, Panarin’s top-notch agent Dan Milstein is doing what any good agent would do. Play hard to get, drag the process out, create desperation, and do everything possible to get your player top dollar. I have stood on the side of optimism, but even if the Bread Man wants out of Columbus, it won’t be for nothing.

I have been unfortunately strong-armed into writing this to clarify a few things for casual Jackets fans, as well as those of other teams who think they have a real shot at landing the Russian dynamo. This was instigated by a brave New York Rangers writer all but promising me that by July 1st, Panarin would be NYC-bound.

Of course I negated the claim because it doesn’t make sense. More on that shortly. It’s also worth noting that his hunch was tipped off by a later-denied (by Milstein himself) rumor that New York was tops on Panarin’s destination wish list.

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There are a few key problems here. To simplify the matter, I’ll break them down bullet by bullet for absolute transparency.

1) Panarin isn’t going anywhere for nothing.

This alone should soothe some anxious fan nerves.

If the Columbus Blue Jackets are by default forced into trading Panarin, it will happen before the trade deadline. They are not going to go full-braindead like the New York Islanders did with All-Star John Tavares.

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The Islanders hoped for Tavares’ return, and got stood up at the alter empty-handed. They got nothing in return for a top ten forward, and that’s on them.

Neither Jarmo Kekalainen, nor any sensible NHL GM is going to let that happen to their club. It’s not worth the risk and I believe the Tavares debacle will serve as a lesson learned for decades to come.

2) If Panarin moves, it won’t be in July.

The only way Artemi Panarin is an unrestricted free agent in July is if whoever was bold enough to trade for him didn’t have a deal worked out to keep him in town. No team is going to give up franchise talent at the trade deadline simply hoping Bread will stick around through the summer.

This defeats the July 1st myth. He’s either a Blue Jacket for seven or eight more years, or he’s going somewhere at the deadline where he’s willing to stay long term. If the Blue Jackets are left wishing Panarin would have stayed, I don’t see another team rolling the same dice.

No one is trading away their future for a playoff “rental” or a guy who’s already packing for the next destination. For these reasons, July 1st becomes mostly irrelevant in the Panarin discussion.

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3) Even if Artemi’s wish list is short, the pieces have to line up.

Just because Artemi wants to play in one particular city more than another doesn’t mean he is locked into target A. For the Jackets to send their top forward packing, they’re going to need something of near equal value in return.

Whether it’s New York, Chicago, Tampa Bay or other, the Blue Jackets are going to make sure they’re squeezing maximum juice out of this orange. This isn’t the NBA where players choose their destination at will.

Panarin, I’m sure, will have a wish list as do many players. He may already. The thing is, whoever puts together the best offer will be the team who ends up with the Bread Man in their team’s sweater.

Sure the Blue Jackets may have little leverage at this stage of the game. That being said, if Panarin stays with the CBJ until the trade deadline without a new contract, the power struggle shifts some. Jarmo and Co. then have the ability to send him to the highest bidder with the pieces that best fit the Jackets’ needs.

Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus Blue Jackets /

Columbus Blue Jackets

Wrap Up

I am as exhausted by the Artemi Panarin trade rumors as anyone else. Believe me. Sadly, as long as reporters, analysts or so and so’s brother’s sister’s cousin continue to peddle incredibly premature, often baseless rumors, I feel the need to shine light on their extenuating circumstances.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Bread could want to play in New York. The nation’s largest city has an allure that appeals to many foreigners and natives alike. To say at this stage though that he is likely to end up there is outlandish.

It is way too early to make such claims considering how many variables would have to unfold perfectly for player X, Y or Z to end up at one particular destination. Anything can change between now and February, March or July for that matter.

Unless Panarin demands to play only in one city, it’s too soon to say where he goes. That information won’t make it into the NHL atmosphere because A) it could cut his contract by millions and B) he needs to fit into that organization’s plans.

Like many Columbus Blue Jackets faithful, I hope to see Artemi in the Columbus for years to come. If he would rather play elsewhere, that’s his prerogative but to declare his final destination now is preposterous.

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Anyone saying otherwise deserves to be called out and as an educated Blue Jacket fan, I encourage you to do just that.