Breaking: Another team has entered the race for Artemi Panarin.

A surprise contender.

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It seems that there may be a surprise contender for the services of superstar free agent forward Artemi Panarin.

Based on the latest reports it sounds like the Florida Panthers are the clear front runners at this time but that by no means that this is a done deal. In fact there were reports that both Panarin and Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky were set to meet with the Panthers on Monday, but the organization has denied those claims stating instead that the meeting will take place at some point later in the week. Well that may be due to the emergence of another contender for Panarin's services.

According to a rather surprising report from Colorado Avalanche insider Adrian Dater, it now appears that the Avalanche may have in fact secured the very first meeting with Panarin during the unrestricted free agency period. I say may because Dater has reported that the Avalanche will meet Panarin "as early as Sunday" which means that they could in theory meet him at a latter date. Dater is usually impeccable when it comes to his reports on the Colorado Avalanche so I believe his sources on this one are good. 

That being said the veteran reporter has reached out to the Colorado Avalanche for comment regarding his story and as you would expect the team completely refused to give him any type of comment whatsoever. Interestingly though the team did not come right out and deny the story which leads me to believe that Dater is once again on the money here.

From Dater:

Avalanche officially will “not confirm or deny” any meeting with Panarin and/or his agent.