Everyone is wondering where pending free agent Artemi Panarin is going to sign once he hits free agency on July 1st, 2019.
All signs seem to be pointing to Panarin leaving the Columbus Blue Jackets for free agency, which leaves GM Jarmo Kekalainen wondering if he should ship out his best player ahead of the trade deadline despite the team being in a great position for a playoff run.
While we might wonder where Panarin will end up, we found out on Tuesday that he could have started the 2018-19 season as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. As Darren Dreger took on the air Toronto’s TSN 1050 to talk about Panarin’s potential destinations, he revealed that a trade almost took place between the Jackets and the Flyers on draft day.
“I’m looking at even the Philadelphia Flyers, depending on what happens. I didn’t know this, maybe you guys did and it slipped under my radar - apparently Philadelphia came real close to acquiring Panarin at the draft last year.
“… I don’t know what the components were, but I know that Philadelphia felt like they were pretty close to getting Panarin at the draft. “
This could have saved Ron Hextall’s job! Since his firing, he was replaced by GM Chuck Fletcher, who might be tempted to revisit the trade.
“Now, there’s been a change in management obviously. Chuck Fletcher, he’s going to be pretty motivated, isn’t he, to add some pieces. Now, he might be able to add some pretty offensive-minded players through trade, considering some of the assets he’s willing to peddle. But I look at Philadelphia as a potential landing spot for Panarin. “
The Russian star has 19 goals and 53 points in 46 games this season and carries a $6 million cap hit with no trade protection and will patiently wait to become eligible on July 1 to sign a contract.