The Columbus Blue Jackets have been one of the most intriguing teams to keep an eye on this offseason, after reports surfaced months ago regarding Artemi Panarin and his reluctance to negotiate a long-term extension. That pushed the star forward—at least speculatively—onto the trade market, and made him one of the biggest stories of the summer. In his State of the Franchise column for The Athletic (subscription required), Blue Jackets insider Aaron Portzline reports that Columbus has received trade offers for Panarin but that they’ve been for prospects and “high-round draft picks.” The Blue Jackets obviously haven’t accepted these packages, and Portzline notes that they wouldn’t help “ease the absence” of the star winger for the upcoming season.
Columbus is still expected to compete for the Metropolitan Division title this season with the roster as currently constructed, but losing Panarin (and possibly Sergei Bobrovsky) to free agency in the summer of 2019 is a tough pill to swallow at this point. With no Stanley Cup success guaranteed in 2018-19, it would be tough for GM Jarmo Kekalainen to just allow the season to progress without a deal in place. Portzline reports that a list of “preferred destinations” for Panarin—which is headlined by the New York Rangers and also includes New York Islanders, Los Angeles Kings, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars—is still applicable, though agent Dan Milstein has downplayed the accurary of any list and said that nothing had been provided (at that point) to the Blue Jackets.
Training camp starts in just two weeks for Columbus, and the Panarin situation was supposed to be resolved by then one way or another. If that’s a true deadline from Panarin’s perspective on negotiating an extension, the team may have to settle for one of the packages offered and hope the rest of the roster can take them to the playoffs on their own. After all, the team does have a good young core of players in Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Pierre-Luc Dubois and others and could likely secure a big package of future assets for Panarin’s services. That could set the team up for even more long-term success, despite it coming with a decline in performance for the 2018-19 season.