Today marks the two year anniversary of Artemi Panarin signing with the New York Rangers. Needless to say that the deal has been a smashing success for both sides, but it almost didn’t happen.
Thanks to a late monster offer from the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Rangers weren’t sure he was going to accept their deal.
Artemi Panarin decides to become a Ranger
The day after Panarin signed, I confirmed with a team source the Rangers felt very confident Panarin was theirs heading into July 1. However, things went a little sideways late on the eve of free agent frenzy. That’s when Columbus made a big offer, including the 8th year to get him to stay. That was only something the Jackets could offer having his rights. It was also rumored the Isles were going up to $13M. It was a crazy 24 hours before Panarin decided.
All of this was why they weren’t 100% sure where Panarin was going. It wasn’t until just around Noon on July 1st they started to breathe a sigh of relief. The Rangers did have a big chip to play. They wisely front loaded the contract, which was something really only they and a few other rich teams in the league could do. That was how they could compete with Columbus’ term advantage.
Ultimately, Panarin listened to his heart and opted to sign with the team he always wanted to play for.
“I dreamt of playing for the Rangers and my heart has been here,” he said through a translator. “I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, but I am really happy.”
Artemi Panarin the greatest free agent signing in history?
So is Panarin the best Rangers free agent signing ever? It is sure looking that way in the early going. In just, 111 games he has registered a staggering 153 points on the strength of 49 goals and 104 assists.
His contract is one of the biggest in the NHL at $11.642 annually, but so far he’s worth every penny. The 29 year-old winger has five years remaining on his deal and should continue to be a top performer for much of it.
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