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Is Artemi Panarin heading to the Big Apple?

The NHL has been slow for a few weeks now and minus the Nate Schmidt suspension (which of course he will dispute) there hasn’t been much news.  However, as per NHL.com, Artemi Panarin has met with the brass of the Columbus Blue Jackets and has informed them that he has no intention of signing a long-term extension with the team.

Panarin is a young star and after moving around from Chicago to Columbus, is looking for a new home.  His preferred destinations include the following;  New York (Rangers and Islanders), Dallas, Los Angeles, Florida (Tampa Bay and Sunshine).  For Panarin, it seems more of a lifestyle choice than anything else.  None of the teams on this list are bad (minus the Rangers) but none are Cup favorites.

Can the Islanders or Rangers make it work?  Perhaps, but they would have to do it in different ways.  Just as John Tavares burned the Islanders in free agency, they wouldn’t want the same to happen with Panarin.  The Rangers on the other hand have always been the preferred destination for free agents due to their history, Madison Square Garden, and being an original six franchise.  How can either team make it work?  Let’s take a look;

How Panarin can become a Ranger

It’s much simpler for the Rangers than it is for the Islanders;  Panarin listed the Rangers as his first destination.  He wants to be in New York in general but the Rangers being the perennial franchise make them favorites to land Panarin in free agency.  As per Fansided, the Rangers have $21M in cap space in 2019 and after what looks to be a rebuilding year the Rangers will be in good shape to grab another blue chip prospect.

With Henrik Lundqvist only getting older and the Rangers slowly losing all the pieces that brought them to the Stanley Cup just a few years ago, adding a piece like Panarin would speed up the rebuild and maybe jump start another playoff run.  If he’s available, the Rangers will be the favorite to grab him.

How the Isles can land ‘Breadman’

Breadman is the nickname for Panarin (get it?) and it’s a testament to the Russian population of Brooklyn that Panarin would like to live there.  The Islanders still have a ton of talent even with the departure of former captain/pajama boy John Tavares.  They have Calder Trophy winner Mat Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier, Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, and a pipeline of young talent chomping at the bit to get their shot in the NHL.

The Islanders could wait until Panarin is a free agent, but unlike the Rangers the Isles are NOT the preferred destination for Artemi Panarin.  The better route would be to trade for Panarin either before the season starts or in the middle of the season and negotiate an extension then so he doesn’t hit free agency.

The Islanders and Blue Jackets are divisional “rivals” but they could easily work out a deal that would benefit both teams immediately.  Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz have both stated that every Islander has a clean slate with them, but much maligned forward Brock Nelson would benefit from a fresh start on a new team.  Add in free agent Jordan Eberle, who clearly won’t be able to get paid if the Isles plan on having both Panarin and Anders Lee in their future, and you have a good foundation right there.  The Jackets will ask for more, so throwing in an up and coming prospect like Bode Wilde, or giving up on the Josh Ho-Sang project with a high pick should do the trick to nab Panarin.

You have to give up assets to gain them and having Panarin on a first line with Mat Barzal could be magic.  Trading away Nelson and Eberle also opens up opportunities for youngsters like Ho-Sang (if he’s not traded) and Kiefer Bellows, who has shown flashes of brilliance in World Juniors.  It’s a win-win because the Jackets get NHL talent back while also helping out the Islanders immensely.

Will Artemi Panarin wind up in the Big Apple?  More likely than not.  Considering that the Rangers and Islanders are two of his top destinations (Rangers being the top), unless Columbus has reservations about trading him to an in-division rival he should wind up in blue.  What the secondary color is depends on how everything shakes out this year, but it should be an interesting storyline to watch.

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