The start of the 2018-19 season for the Columbus Blue Jackets and their fan base was an exciting one last night as star forward Artemi Panarin netted the overtime winner to clinch the first victory of the season, 3-2, over the Detroit Red Wings. Panarin's season begins like last year's ended as he remains the offensive focal point for the Blue Jackets, but his future in Columbus remains murky.
You can see his overtime winner in the video above.
Even more so now that he took a brutal shot at the Jackets and changed the game as trade talks unfold...
The Blue Jackets and Panarin have been facing a contract impasse since the beginning of the summer, as the Russian sniper informed the club he was not looking to sign a contract extension in Columbus. It is believed that Panarin would prefer to play for a bigger hockey market, and is not willing to stay with the Jackets, with whom he ended up after a blockbuster trade that sent him there from the Chicago Blackhawks. Panarin, and star goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, are entering the last year of their contracts.
However now, according to NHL insider Pierre LeBrun, Panarin has no intention of signing a contract with anyone this season.
"Well if that’s not bad enough because it shocked the organization in the summer, my understanding is that he doesn’t want to sign with anyone, period, during this season. In other words, if and when he gets traded, he will be traded as a rental which will greatly diminish the return for him, compared to if he would be gone in a trade like Max Pacioretty, who signed an extension with Vegas which gave the Montreal Canadiens a greater return. Sounds like instead it will be like Erik Karlsson leaving Ottawa, which hurts your return if you’re Columbus," LeBrun explained last night on a segment of TSN's Insider Trading.
Many believe that won't prevent Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen from trying to re-sign his star forward. Panarin broke franchise records and set career highs with 55 assists and 82 points last season, his first in Columbus. Of course, Kekalainen does not want to lose him for nothing. Which would hurt the franchise quite a bit.
If Kekalainen feels Panarin will walk away as a free agent in the summer, he will have to pull the trigger on a trade, but his return won't be as much as it would be if the star forward was not just a rental...