It certainly seems as if Artemi Panarin will be headed into UFA waters in July, so which teams might be in the running to land him?
Darren Dreger had a Tuesday afternoon Leafs Lunch radio hit on Toronto’s TSN 1050.
As part of a longer discussion on the Columbus Blue Jackets and Panarin in the wake of the statement released by his agent Monday, Dreger shared a few tidbits related to the potential unrestricted free agent market for the star forward.
“I’m telling you this: For a mid-market team like Columbus, or any team - and I’m going to include Pittsburgh into this grouping, St. Louis, I mean these are teams with good rosters - for them to get in on Panarin, they’re going to have to overpay,” indicated Dreger. “They’re going to have to overpay, because I think geographically that matters to him.
“So I’m looking at the Islanders - I think Panarin would love to play with Mat Barzal. I’m looking at even the Philadelphia Flyers, depending on what happens. I didn’t know this, maybe you guys did and it slipped under my radar - apparently Philadelphia came real close to acquiring Panarin at the draft last year.
“... I don’t know what the components were, but I know that Philadelphia felt like they were pretty close to getting Panarin at the draft.
“Now, there’s been a change in management obviously. Chuck Fletcher, he’s going to be pretty motivated, isn’t he, to add some pieces. Now, he might be able to add some pretty offensive-minded players through trade, considering some of the assets he’s willing to peddle. But I look at Philadelphia as a potential landing spot for Panarin.
“The Rangers are always in that mix, even though they feel like they’re a ways away.
“And then you’ve got to shift over into the Western Conference, and looks at the likes of maybe San Jose. Los Angeles feels a bit of a stretch because of the turnaround there. He’s going to have lots of geographic locations that are much more appealing.
“Oh, in the East I forgot Florida... So maybe it’s the Islanders, the Flyers, Florida in the East.
“The point being Artemi Panarin is going to have his pick of the litter, and I think they’re going to steal a page from the Maple Leafs. I think he’s going to get that seven-year term and $11 million AAV.”
Panarin is in the second season of a two-year, $12 million contract, and can become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Contract-related info via CapFriendly