Artemi Panarin
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The 2018-19 New York Rangers, in the midst of a full rebuild, have an opportunity to snag young Artemi Panarin. But should they take it?

Opportunities like this do not come around often. To add an elite scoring winger in the NHL at this point of an organization rebuild rarely happens.

Artemi Panarin, arguably a top-10 winger in the entire NHL, has had his name thrown around in trade rumors recently. Many hopeful Ranger fans have chimed in on the topic, many of whom shared extreme opinions regarding Panarin.

Hopefully, everyone is in strict agreement that Panarin is a star.

This past season with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Panarin had 82 points on 27 goals and 55 assists. He averaged about a point-per-game with a team that is not necessarily comprised of offensive talent. Panarin, who was once accused being the beneficiary of Patrick Kane’s greatness, has proven himself in Columbus this season.

Now, while this issue was a stronger topic of discussion a week ago, it provides for an interesting conundrum for the New York Rangers, especially now that the draft is over.

Panarin, who is 26-years-old and approaching his prime, will be a UFA at the end of next season. The Blue Jackets, who are doing everything in their power to re-sign the kid, may not be able to negotiate an extension with this particular youngster who seems to be interested in moving on from Columbus.

If Columbus is smart, they will look to trade Panarin this season. Evidently, to trade him, they would have to send him to a team he would be interested in spending an extended period of time with. Four, maybe five years?

Trading a newly-signed Panarin could be a very lucrative endeavor for the Blue Jackets. But, do they really want to do that?

The Blue Jackets are not the Rangers. What I mean by this, is that they could very well win the Stanley Cup next year.

With players like Panarin, Seth Jones, Sergei Bobrovsky, Zach Werenski and Cam Atkinson, the Blue Jackets have the power to once again be competitive. Do they risk losing Panarin for nothing to have a legitimate shot at a championship next season?

The Panarin debacle is an interesting one for the Rangers. Do the Rangers risk losing Panarin to a team that trades for him with an extension, or do they wait in the hopes that he is a UFA next summer?

What makes this a debacle is due to all of the questions involved. There really is no wrong answer. Each choice has its benefits and detriments.

This, of course, depends on what Columbus desires in a trade return. If it’s Brandon Saad, like Chicago had wanted, then by all means, yes. But if it is a plethora of prospects, it may not really be worth it.

But, why write about this a week after the rumors, which were nothing more than rumblings, were circulating?

The Artemi Panarin debacle becomes a very intriguing metaphor. Panarin is the test for the Rangers. When will the Rangers revert back to the Rangers of old, the Rangers of old that have targeted top free agents like Kevin Shattenkirk and Brad Richards in the past?

When does the “strict rebuild” conclude? That is a question that only the Rangers’ actions will tell us.

I think another year of mediocrity is necessary. Trade for bad contracts, stockpile assets, be terrible and attain a couple more first round picks for next season.

Where does this leave Panarin? I have gone back and forth on this issue, but what I can say, for the time being, is this: the New York Rangers should steer clear of Panarin until he hits free agency next summer. He’s an incredible talent, but he’s not worth compromising the rebuild.