The Columbus Blue Jackets take on the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, a possible future home of Artemi Panarin.
The Columbus Blue Jackets start their first road trip of the season tonight as they take on the Florida Panthers. Normally the Jackets walk into an almost empty arena in Sunrise but tonight is the Panthers home opener and they are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the team. I would expect the arena to be packed and the Jackets to be facing a bit of a hostile environment for the first time all year.
Ahead of the game I chatted with Danny Janicas, the site expert over at TheRatTrick.com. Danny does an excellent job covering all things Panthers and I wanted to talk to him about what he thinks of the Jackets and his thoughts on tonights game.
Be sure to follow Danny on Twitter and read his, and his team’s work, over at The Rat Trick. Florida is going to be a fun team to follow all season long. I even predicted that they would beat out the Boston Bruins for the third slot in the Atlantic (more on that later).
Lansing Murphy (LM): Lets talk Artemi Panarin. It’s been widely reported that South Florida is a place Panarin would like to play. If the Panthers are in the hunt for a playoff spot in December, would you like to see them make a trade for Panarin knowing he would likely resign? What does a fair deal look like for Panarin in December or at the trade deadline?
Danny Janicas (DJ): The reports having us in the mix for Artemi Panarin were only popular for about a weeks time. After about a week, rumors of Panarin to Florida kind of died down, as Columbus’ asking price was just too high.
I don’t really want to get into this hypothetical game, but for the sake of the exercise, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jackets asked for one of Jonathan Huberdeau or Vincent Trocheck, a mid to high level prospect, and a first round pick.
But if I’m being completely honest, I just wouldn’t be willing to offer one of Huberdeau/Trocheck in a deal for Panarin.
At least not yet.
Columbus Blue Jackets
LM: Outside of trading Panarin to Florida, how would you handle this situation?
DJ: Well If I’m Columbus, I obviously try to get the best return possible. When you’re in a scenario like this, knowing that he’s gone in the summer, you aren’t always going to get the return you’re hoping for.
So really, it’s important to pull the trigger when you figure out what the best return is that you can get – because at the end of the day – you don’t want to lose him for nothing.
LM: Alright, enough Panarin. Plenty of folks have the top three in the Atlantic as a lock for Toronto, Tampa, and Boston. I actually picked the Panthers to finish third in the division ahead of the Bruins. Am I crazy?
DJ: Thanks for believing in us, Lansing! Not many have us cracking the top three in the Atlantic, and it can be frustrating at times. We’re a team that is constantly slept on – which at times – can work in our favor.
But no, you’re not crazy for thinking that. While the Bruins possess a strong roster, it’s easy to forget the fire power that the Panthers own as well. Boston’s core of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastranak is ranked up there in the league, but so is Florida’s with Aleksander Barkov, Huberdeau, and Trocheck.
I believe our core is not only on par with Boston’s, but actually better. It’s not going to be easy beating out the Bs for the third spot, but who said it was going to be a cake walk?
The Panthers possess enough talent to finish ahead of Boston, but it will come down to who wants it more.
LM: Where do you think the Panthers matchup best against the Jackets?
DJ: That’s tough to say as Columbus is strong in all three areas of the ice. But seeing I have to chose one area, I’ll have to pick offense, seeing the Cats are a deeper team up front now.
LM: How do you see this game playing out?
DJ: Unlike the last time these two teams met, I see the Panthers playing similar to their season opener. High-energy with a mix of tight, forechecking hockey to open up the game.
If that happens, I see the Panthers coming away with their first win of the season in the home opener.
Thanks to Danny Janicas for the insight into tonights game and his though on the race in the Atlantic and the Panarin situation.
As he said, the Jackets would likely be gunning for one of Jonathan Huberdeau or Vincent Trocheck and a top prospect such as Owen Tippet or Hernik Bjorgstrom. This is a high price but Panarin is elite.
Interesting to see how a Panthers expert sees the situation right now though and we thank Danny again for chatting.
The puck drops at 7pm tonight in Florida for the first of two Columbus Blue Jackets games in Florida.