The Rangers Should Trade For Panarin’s Rights If They Really Want To Sign Him
Draft season and free agency are nearly upon us. With just one more game left to be played in the 2018-2019 season, Jeff Gorton and the Rangers are expected to be very active during the summer, starting on the draft floor in a mere 10 days.
When the Bruins and the Blues finish off what has been a fantastic Stanley Cup Final Wednesday night, the rumor mill will heat up. The Rangers have been linked to many things already starting with the trade that was made for Harvard defenseman Adam Fox.
The Rangers have also been linked to some other players such as Jacob Trouba in a possible trade. However, the big fish that the Rangers have been linked to for quite some time now are the UFAs to be, Erik Karlsson and Artemi Panarin.
The Karlsson rumors have sort of slowed down with him and the Blueshirts, but many think that Gorton will be very active in trying to acquire the 27-year-old Panarin. What can Gorton do to help speed up the process in acquiring the Russian winger?
Last week the Philadelphia Flyer traded a 5th round pick to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for the rights to former Ranger, and pending UFA Kevin Hayes. For those unfamiliar with acquiring a player’s rights, it does not mean the player is obligated to sign with that team. When a player’s rights are traded pre-UFA (July 1), the acquiring team is the only team that can do two things.
First, the team that has acquired the player’s rights is the only team that can talk contract negotiations with him until the pending-UFA player can talk to other teams on June 23 (this date changes, but it is always the Sunday of the NHL draft). If that player elects not to sign a deal with the team who acquired his rights, he can begin talking to teams on that date and officially sign a contract with another team on July 1.
Second, the team that acquired the players rights is the only team that can sign him to a contract before the UFA signing window officially opens on July 1. A misconception by many is that they believe that if a team acquires a player’s UFA rights during the offseason, they can sign that player to the 8-year max. That is not the case. The team that had the player on their roster at the previous trade deadline is the only team that can offer that player the 8-year max.
Many believe that Panarin will get somewhere in the $10.5-12 million AAV range, but the Columbus Blue Jackets are currently the only team that can give him the max term of 8 years. If the Blue Jackets elect to not trade his rights to try and keep him, and he signs with another team, there is no doubt he will get the 7-year max term from the team he signs with.
So why not get a hand up on other competitors such as the Florida Panthers and trade for Panarin’s rights so the Rangers can at least start talking to him before anyone else does? Over the years, player’s rights have been traded so that the team trading the player can at least get something for a guy who’s most likely going to walk out the door once free agency begins. Below is a list of trades for player’s rights that have been made in the recent past:
Ben Bishop for a 4th (2017)
Alex Goligoski for a 5th (2016)
Keith Yandle for a 6th and conditional 4th (2016)
Antti Niemi for a 7th (2015)
Carl Soderberg for a 6th (2015)
Nikita Nikitin for a 5th (2014)
Sergei Gonchar for a 6th (2013)
Tomas Vokoun for a 7th (2012)
Jonas Gustavsson for a 7th (2012)
*Credit to Stat Boy Steven for this list*
All in all, if the Rangers have their eyes set on Panarin, I really believe this is the route that they should go. Florida is rumored to be the favorite, and if Gorton wants to get a hand up on them, this would be the best way in doing so. If the Rangers were to acquire Panarin’s rights, I think that the Keith Yandle trade to the Panthers would be the best comparison – something like a 5th or 6th round pick in 2019, and a conditional 2020 4th round pick if he does in fact sign with the Rangers.