The Columbus Blue Jackets are not giving up on star forward Artemi Panarin. GM Jarmo Kekalainen is facing a tough situation as both Panarin and his star goalie Sergei Bobrovsky are slated to become unrestricted free agents in the summer of 2019 and contract talks have been inexistent. There’s been little change in Bobrovsky’s status but NHL insider Pierre LeBrun has revealed that Panarin’s agent, Dan Milstein, is set to meet with him following the holiday break to discuss their contract situation.
The Blue Jackets surely have something going in their favour at the moment. The team currently sits in the first place of the Metropolitan Division, and Panarin seems happy to be finding to back of the net since the start of the season. Kekalainen could keep trying to show that Columbus is a good place to be and use the standings and success of the regular calendar to pursue his star player to stay.
LeBrun believes the Jackets will make a contract offer to Panarin before the trade deadline and see if they can convince him to stay.
However, LeBrun has also revealed how much Panarin is looking to get, whether it is to stay in Columbus, or to be offered by another team on the market as he becomes a free agent.
And if you think Toronto Maple Leafs' William Nylander is being unreasonable, then you might see that Panarin is taking it up a notch. Once again according to Pierre LeBrun, "the expectation is that Panarin's camp will be seeking $10 million to $11 million a year in his next deal whether that's in Columbus or on the open market..."
Kekalainen and the team's management team would have a lot of work to do to make this work, however the Jackets could certainly do it. However, he might have some tough decisions to make on the entire roster to make it happen.
According to LeBrun's colleague Bob McKenzie, if Panarin gets what he wants on his new deal, he would be the only other winger in the NHL besides Patrick Kane to crack the double-digit ($10M+) AAV barrier.
Of course, it seems like he deserves to be paid his new asking price, however, does everyone else feel that way? Do you?