When I heard a few days ago that Artemi Panarin was going to meet with Blue Jackets’ GM Jarmo Kekalainen to talk about his future with the club, I figured it would be a positive step in keeping the “bread man” in Columbus.
Unfortunately, the dark cloud remains over this situation. According to Blue Jackets writer Aaron Portzline of The Athletic, the meeting concluded and while the talks were generally good, no progress was made on a contract extension.
This is certainly not the best news for Columbus. Without Panarin, this team really does not have an offensive superstar with his abilities nor do they have a true superstar to put the team over the top.
Last season, Panarin led the team with 82 points (27 goals and 55 assists) and was easily the team’s best player in terms of producing on a consistent basis. Not only did he contribute a lot offensively 5-on-5, but he was also a huge contributor on the power play as he picked-up 21 points (7 goals and 14 assists) with the man advantage.
Losing Panarin would be a huge blow to the Blue Jackets. The team’s offense was led by Panarin and when they needed to someone to come up big at a key moment in the game, Panarin was the guy to do so as he had 5 game-winning goals last season.
The situation with Panarin is not the only problem the Blue Jackets currently have. The team could also end up losing their All-Star netminder in Sergei Bobrovsky.
Bob’s contract expires at the end of this season and up to this point, the team and Bob have not discussed a contract extension. This is another big problem for this hockey club.
Since joining the franchise, the man they call “Bob” has won two Vezina Trophies as the league’s best goaltender, has gotten them to the playoffs three different times, and has been one of the world’s best goaltenders. Replacing someone like that will be extremely difficult.
What exactly does the team do moving forward? They basically need to go balls out this season with the guys they have and with Panarin and Bob. With those two players, they have a solid hockey club who could do some damage in the Eastern Conference.
Other than that, there is not much else they can do, but hope that they can figure out a way to keep both Artemi and Bob.