Dreger: Blue Jackets not interested in trading Panarin

A full season of Artemi Panarin’s services would certainly command a pretty penny on the NHL trade market, but it doesn’t seem like his general manager will be pulling the trigger on a deal anytime soon.

Darren Dreger pointed out in Wednesday’s edition of Insider Trading that Panarin, set to become an unrestricted free agent in July, is still drawing trade interest from other teams, but that Jarmo Kekalainen “has no interest in trading him.

Panarin, conversely, isn’t looking to sign an extension.

During a Thursday morning radio appearance on Montreal’s TSN 690, Dreger was asked about the two conflicting ends of this spectrum and how it might play out this season.

“I think it depends on where the Columbus Blue Jackets are as you creep closer to the trade deadline,” began Dreger. “If they’re in a position where they think they’re a contending team, then how do you trade Artemi Panarin, or Sergei Bobrovsky for that matter. He’s kind of the forgotten guy in all of this, also an unrestricted free agent July 1.

“The sense that I get, and Panarin has made it clear, is that it’s not specifically about the team, it’s just wanting a market change from a lifestyle perspective more than anything.

“The message that I get loud and clear from the Blue Jackets’ brass is that right now they don’t have any interest in talking trade. Teams have called and Jarmo Kekalainen is more willing to put his efforts into re-signing Panarin and/or Bobrovsky.

“But I don’t think that Panarin’s position is going to change between now and the trade deadline. So as we creep closer to that, then obviously the pressure mounts on the Columbus Blue Jackets, and they’ve got to assess where they’re at and whether or not they feel they can make a run for it, and if they can’t then I think we’re legitimately looking at a trade possibility closer to the deadline for both of those guys.”

The Blue Jackets are certainly setting up to have another solid season, as things stand.

“Yeah, I don’t argue that point,” agreed Dreger. “It feels like teams are, especially contending teams like Columbus, are growing less weary about the notion of a player like that - Bobrovsky or Panarin in this case - walking for free as a big deal.

“I mean, the Toronto Maple Leafs went into the playoffs - now they lost in the first round - but they got squat for Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov, and James van Riemsdyk. All three of those guys walked into unrestricted free agency and signed elsewhere. It’s a bit of a head-scratcher. Not sure that I would want to do business that way, but you also have to weight that versus the possibility and the experience that you gain when you try and go deep into the playoffs. It didn’t work for the Maple Leafs last year, they weren’t experienced enough in that regard, but it might work for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“But that’s a challenge that Kekalainen is going to have to face, as I said earlier, closer to the deadline.”

“I’m not saying it applies to every team,” added Dreger. “But a handful of years ago it was unthinkable for a team to not have their players sign before the deadline, or have an assurance that that player was likely going to sign, because the idea of a decent unrestricted free agent walking for free and not getting anything in return made no sense at all.

“So maybe Columbus approaches it that way too.”

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