McKenzie: ‘Exhaustive process’ awaits UFA Panarin

With Artemi Panarin likely destined to test free agent waters this summer, what sort of inclinations do we have as to where he might be inclined to sign?

Bob McKenzie had a Monday morning radio hit on Winnipeg’s TSN 1290.

Part of the segment involved the Insider providing his take on the trade between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Florida Panthers, where McKenzie covered some of the same ground he did Friday in terms of the Panthers clearing cap space for a potential run at pending UFAs Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky.

Following that portion of the conversation, McKenzie was asked to follow up on potential free agent destinations for Panarin because he “seems to be a guy who knows where he wants to go.”

“Actually, you know what - I don’t think he does,” began McKenzie, before pausing again. “I think he does and he doesn’t. But I think the places he wants to go are multiple. He’s going to go through, I think, a rather exhaustive process once the season is over and he gets into that shopping period before free agency.

“My understanding is that any of the Florida teams, he’s interested in. Any of the big teams on the Eastern seaboard - the New York Rangers, like that. The Chicago Blackhawks, there’s been indications that he would go back and try to find a way to work him back into the fold. I don’t think smaller market Canadian teams would be in his wheelhouse at all. Toronto is not going to be positioned to do anything. But I think he liked the idea of Original Six a little bit. I wouldn’t rule Detroit out of the equation, especially with the history Detroit has had with Russian players in the past.

“So I think it’s a pretty wide-open landscape, but only to a point. He’s going to want to have a chance to contend with good young players that give him a chance. So I think it’s a relatively wide-open field, but there’s probably 10-12 places already where the doors are closed. Maybe even half the league will be out of it before they start.”

Panarin is in the second season of a two-year, $12 million contract, and can become a UFA July 1.

His next contract may be in that John Tavares range of seven years and $88 million, although that could depend on the cap situation and contending level of that particular team.

Contract-related info via CapFriendly