Artemi Panarin’s contract negotiations with Columbus have stalled, and the New York Islanders have been named one of a few suitors for the 26-year-old winger.
The Bread Man and the Blue Jackets have attempted contract negotiations throughout the summer with no outcome. It was during a meeting in France where Panarin confirmed he would not discuss an extension effective September 13 — when training camp begins league-wide and lasting until the season’s end.
Training camp is exactly one month away, and with talks having stalled since then between the Jackets and Panarin it’s likely that Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen will do his best to field an apt return for the Jackets’ best player in franchise history.
Of the several suitors linked to Panarin, Craig Custance went on the Hockey PDOcast and gave his thought on which team makes the most sense as a potential landing spot:
“My prediction on this, I think the Islanders. They’re not at a point where the want to rebuild. In Panarin, there’s a chance to get that preimere player. Obviously they have the finances to sign him, they can just give him [John] Tavares money…and I think the Islanders can put together a really good package if they wanted to.”
Maintaining the core
Initially, it seemed the Islanders would be in prime shape to make a deal like this, carrying the most cap space in the NHL at just upwards of $30 million after the events of July 1.
Columbus, according to Custance, would likely ask for a return that includes a top-six forward — something that isn’t an optimal return for the Islanders if they want to retain and exceed their expectations to compete as soon as next season.
Moreso, Anthony Beauvillier can make a case for a multi-million deal if he plays as well as he did after his recall from the AHL this past season. Plus, that’s without considering the extension Mathew Barzal will be handed when he’s in need of a new contract in two seasons. Unless a forward comes out to Lamoriello and demands a trade, there’s a very small chance that the current offense is disrupted.
Assuming they can circumvent this requirement with high-end draft picks, the Islanders would still need to deal away a top-end prospect to level off the lack of a roster player. Besides that, Columbus is in win-now mode, just like the Islanders.
When the Jackets traded for Panarin, they got the impact-player they needed to lead the offense. If they could help it, they’d have re-signed him as soon as he was eligible to accept an extension. They’re looking for exactly what they’re selling other teams — NHL-ready, top-line talent.
The Jackets have a healthy infusion of youth up and down their roster consisting of defensive star Zach Werenski, Josh Anderson and Pierre-Luc Dubois but still see themselves as a win-now team given that Sergei Bobrovsky is rapidly approaching his 30th birthday and will be in need of a new contract after this season. It’ll be hard for Kekalainen to justify a return that doesn’t include a top-six forward or some very high-level prospects.
It’s a tough sell for both teams despite the fact that the Islanders are exploring ways to make it work. If Panarin makes his way to the Island, it probably signals the beginning of a top-six makeover.
Lamoriello’s plans for the Islanders have a win-now blueprint and given the assets desired by Kekalainen, it’s unlikely a long-term deal comes to fruition.