The Columbus Blue Jackets forward currently leads the team in points, but not by a large margin.
The Columbus Blue Jackets had one of their biggest scoring outbursts on Thursday against the Florida Panthers without star forward Artemi Panarin. While Panarin likely would’ve contributed to the scoring if he were on the ice, it proved that he’s not as essential to the team as many believe.
Artemi Panarin isn’t what Rick Nash was to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the past, a star player on a team of below league average players. Artemi Panarin is a star player on a team of above league average players.
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Artemi Panarin may lead the team in points, but he scores in bursts. He’ll usually put up two or three points in one game, then go quiet for a few games. Panarin isn’t a consistent superstar, if he was he’d be in the argument for the best player in the NHL.
Panarin leads the team in assists, however he’s fifth on the team in goals. He creates a large amount of scoring chances, but this season he’s had trouble finishing those chances. Pierre-Luc Dubois and Cam Atkinson have been the finishers on the top line, leaving Panarin simply as a playmaker much like an Alexander Wennberg who isn’t afraid to shoot the puck once in a while.
The last season the Blue Jackets had Brandon Saad and not Panarin, the team finished with a total of 108 points. Meanwhile in the first season with Panarin, they only put up 97. Meaning that record-wise, the team performed better without Panarin. That’s not to say Panarin makes the Blue Jackets a worse team, it’s very much the opposite.
The question to ask, is Panarin’s contribution truly great enough for fans to worry about his pending contract an entire season? Realistically, he’s the best player on the team but not by much. He has some intangibles that others don’t have, but the others will put up points with or without him. If he leaves, the Blue Jackets will be fine.