The Athletic’s George Richards got everyone panicking on Tuesday when he headlined his latest article: Free agents Sergei Bobrovsky, Artemi Panarin take their talents to South Beach. Thankfully, he added for a vacation in parentheses which settle fans down in Columbus.
The two players were dining together as they talked with Richards, however, Panarin refused to go on record when asked about his reason for coming to Florida before heading back home to Russia.
The Russian star forward is expected to test free agency on July 1st to become one of the most coveted players on the market, and the Panthers have been said to be going all out on both Panarin and his teammate Bobrovsky.
Panthers GM Dale Tallon made significant moves ahead of the trade deadline, notably shipping out Jared McCaan and Nick Bjugstad to the Pittsburgh Penguins, in order to make room for two hefty contracts for Panarin and Bobrovsky.
The fact that the Panthers hired Joel Quenneville, Panarin’s former head coach back with the Chicago Blackhawks, could also lure the star forward in Florida, he who would also meet up with good friend Evgenii Dadonov. Plus, sunny beaches, no-tax state… it feels like this could take place, especially since Panarin did not deny the speculations when Richards was around.
Bobrovsky tried to smooth things over by saying that the two players and their significant others were taking some time off in the sun before heading to Russia.
“This is just a vacation, nothing more,” Bobrovsky said once alone with Richards.
“It is the same for Artemi. We just want to get some rest before we start digging into the options out there. The past couple of years, we have come here before we go home. We come here to spend a couple of days, relax, make some plans for the summer and settle things down.
“It’s pretty easy to relax here. They take care of us pretty well. There are so many options. We have a great pool, a huge gym, the ocean, terrific restaurants. Whatever you want to do is right here. This is a great place for a transition.”
A transition or a new start? We will know more as we head closer to July 1st.