As playoffs progress, Panarin signing with the Rangers decreases

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“Artemi Panarin wants to play for the Rangers!” This has been echoed by fans and hockey insiders alike for months. The speculation has been going on ever since Aaron Portzline wrote that Panarin wants to play on Broadway in the Athletic. While this may still be true, it isn’t the sure thing it was before the trade deadline.

The Chicago Connection

A return to the Blackhawks can’t be ruled out. While the fact that Joel Quenneville is no longer there hurts Chicago, his good friend Patrick Kane would love “The Breadman” back with the team. The feeling is mutual as Panarin once surprised his buddy with a watch for helping him hit his bonuses.

“I don’t know, we’ll see what the situation comes to,” Kane said about the possibility of playing with Panarin again. “Obviously we have a lot of season left here. I don’t think you really find yourself thinking about it too much. Would it be great to play with him again? Yeah, obviously. But there’s a lot for that to happen, whether he stays in Columbus, goes to free agency, goes to another team. It’s his decision. [We’ll] see what happens after the season.”

Patrick Kane (NBC)

Sun and Fun?

Panarin was seen playing beach volleyball with members of the Tampa Bay Lightning and his good friend Nikita Kucherov. So he definitely looks like he could enjoy playing on the beach and no state income tax goes a long way too.

Also, Joel Quenneville announced as the new coach of the talented Panthers in Florida adds another wrinkle in that predestined Panarin at the Garden notion.

Staying in Columbus

Panarin is having a great time in the NHL playoffs and with all the big Eastern Conference teams knocked out in the first round, the Jackets are now my pick to get to the Stanley Cup Final.

So what if they win the Cup? We know this, the Jackets will find the money to keep both Panarin and Duchene should they want to stay and defend that championship in Columbus. And let’s not discard that a Jackets Cup probably keeps John Davidson there too.

Chances of Panarin on Broadway

If the Jackets don’t win the Cup, I still put the Rangers as favorites to land him in July. So right now I have it as NY, CBJ, FL, TB, and CHI. However, if John Tortorella leads them to the promise land you can put Columbus at the top.