Arguably the biggest name on both the trade market and the upcoming free agent market is Artemi Panarin, who has been represented by Dan Milstein and Gold Star Hockey. No more, as according to Kevin Weekes of NHL Network, Panarin has changed agents. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet tweets that Panarin will now be represented by Paul Theofanous, who also works with teammate (and fellow pending free agent) Sergei Bobrovsky.
Speculation is bound to immediately erupt over this news, with the idea of Panarin and Bobrovsky being a free agent package the obvious conclusion. That’s not necessarily true even if it does seem more likely, as the number of teams who could afford to add both would limit the market. It also doesn’t increase the odds that Panarin re-signs in Columbus, something that seemed extremely unlikely after comments from Milstein last month.
Panarin will remain the top rental option at the deadline, and the decision on whether he will be moved still comes down to the Blue Jackets front office and GM Jarmo Kekalainen. The 27-year old forward does not have any trade protection in his current contract and can be moved without his approval. Columbus has won two games in a row however and may decide to keep both Russian free agents through the end of the season to try and win a Stanley Cup.