Panarin a good fit for the Islanders?
The Blue Jackets could be traded before hitting free agency.
Columbus Blue Jackets left winger Artemi Panarin’s future in Ohio doesn’t seem like it will last very long. The 26-year-old Russian winger, who was traded to the Blue Jackets last season from the Chicago Blackhawks after two productive seasons, continued to prove that he is a serviceable top-six scoring option last year with 27 goals and 55 assists for a career-high 82 points. Entering the final year of his contract in 2018-19, Panarin has not made much progress on extension talks with Columbus, reportedly giving the team a With negotiations all but nonexistent for most of this summer, Panarin has seen his name crop up in trade talks over the past six weeks, which will likely become the new norm for many pending free agents after John Tavares burned the New York Islanders to sign with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs on Jul. 1. The Islanders were listed as possible suitors for Panarin in initial trade rumors last month as the team is still looking for a way to replace the offensive firepower that walked out of the door with Tavares’ departure. The 27-year-old former captain put up the second-best season of his career in 2017-18, recording 37 goals and 47 assists. With reigning Calder Trophy winner Mathew Barzal now the new face of the franchise, it is imperative the Islanders bring in further support to take pressure off the second-year man as well as Jordan Eberle and 40- goal scorer Anders Lee. But even if the Islanders wound up pulling off what seems like an unlikely trade for Panarin this summer, it could be a short stay in New York. A report from the Athletic’s Scott Powers revealed that Panarin would “seriously consider” a reunion with the Blackhawks, the team he won the Calder Trophy with in 2016. Panarin chose the Blackhawks when he was a free agent prior to the 2015-16 season when he came over from the KHL, Russia’s top league before salary cap issues forced the team to deal him last year. The problem is that Panarin is expected to make much more in his next contract than the $6 million he’s slated to make this year. Chicago might not have that kind of money unless general manager Stan Bowman pulls off an impressive shuffling act. The Islanders, on the other hand, would have no issue as the team currently has almost $30 million in cap space