Surprise new contender jumps into Panarin sweepstakes!

It sure makes sense - can they pull it off?!

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There are 10 days left prior to the trade deadline and there isn't a day that goes by without some kind of update about Columbus Blue Jackets pending free agent forward Artemi Panarin. 

The Russian sniper remains the biggest trade bait out there who could be moved by the Jackets on Feb. 25 unless the team decided to use him as their own rental for a playoff push before losing him for nothing this summer. Panarin has made it clear that he wants to test the free agency in July, and previously mentioned his desire to play for a much bigger hockey market such as New York or Los Angeles. 

While some contenders have clearly identified themselves as interested parties in the Panarin sweepstakes, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman was on the air of Toronto's Sportsnet 590 on Friday morning and revealed a surprised new contender in the race. 

“Panarin - I mentioned earlier this week, I saw the four main players for a rental being Winnipeg, Islanders, Nashville, and Calgary,” explained Friedman. “Somebody said to me yesterday, ‘Do not count out Dallas.’
“They got destroyed last night by Tampa. But if they put some guys on injured reserve as I think they’re going to for the year, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re looking at this too - for Panarin.”

The Dallas Stars are surely feeling the pressure to get better as they fell to the first wildcard seed after a 6-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, and as the St. Louis Blues continue to surge up the standings. 

What better way to become even more menacing then by acquiring Panarin to insert in your lineup with Tyler Seguin? 

However, with limited salary cap space to play with, Stars GM Jim Nill may need to get creative if he wants to pull a blockbuster ahead of the deadline. Panarin is on the final season of a two-year, $12 million contract.