Rangers Should Wait On Panarin
With the news coming out last week that Artemi Panarin may not be interested in re-signing with Columbus at the end of next season, Rangers fans jumped out of their seats.
The 26-year-old Russian forward would fit perfectly on a Rangers team who is in need of right-handed wingers. Panarin, who is set to make $6 million in the last year of his contract with the Blue Jackets, will certainly be in for a raise when the time comes. Many see the need to trade for Panarin immediately and not wait until he turns into a UFA this time next year, but I think there is no need to give up crucial parts of your rebuild for a guy you would have a legitimate shot at in free agency.
The asking price for Panarin would be gigantic, as it should be. The division rival Columbus Blue Jackets have every right to ask for a boatload for a guy who put up numbers like he did last season. In his first year in Columbus, Panarin tallied 27 goals and 55 assists in 81 games. This wasn’t a fluke season, either, as Panarin had 151 points in 162 games in two seasons in Chicago. With incredible numbers in three consecutive seasons, I see the argument to trade for Panarin now, to not let him talk to others teams in free agency. But what would be the asking price for him? The Blue Jackets would be trading with a team in their division, which jacks up the asking price by itself; the number of picks and prospects going the other way would cause an issue with the rebuild the Rangers have been developing. You would likely see guys acquired in the McDonagh/Miller trade, along with multiple picks with a guy like Brady Skjei all involved. It would be an absolute haul.
And I don’t think that’s a ridiculous asking price, either. Whoever is willing to offer the Blue Jackets that type of haul should take Panarin no problem, but the fact that he is a UFA just a season later and causes a team to shake up their entire organization for him is a giant issue for the Rangers. With the path the Rangers are on, being the sellers, not the buyers, I really don’t think Jeff Gorton and company are even paying any mind to Panarin potentially being on the trade market. Gorton has been firm on the Rangers not veering off the path of acquiring picks, not giving away.
If the Blue Jackets decide not to trade Panarin, and he is still unwilling to re-sign in Columbus, he will be able to talk to any team July 1st of 2019. If that time comes, expect the Rangers to then attack the Russian. The contract he will ask for will be huge, but with plenty of cap space, I expect the Rangers to go full throttle when the time comes, in free agency.
Trading for Panarin now isn’t worth it. The road back up from the rebuild isn’t even close to being started yet, and with a plethora for young prospects that could potentially be franchise-altering, don’t expect Jeff Gorton to jump the gun and give up a haul.