Throughout this season in the National Hockey League, all the talk from from fans to analysts to reporters alike have all been wondering what is going to happen to Columbus Blue Jackets’ forward Artemi Panarin.
Originally, many thought that he would be moved at the deadline. Why let him sign with another club in the off-season as a unrestricted free agent, when you can trade him in order to get something solid in return.
That clearly did not happen. The team decided to hang onto him so they could be all in on not only making the playoffs, but having success in them as well.
Despite all of this, however, it is rumored that come the end of the season, whenever that may be for the Blue Jackets, Panarin will explore his options as an unrestricted free agent and see what teams come at him with. There are going to be plenty of teams that want his services, but there is only one that should throw everything but the kitchen sink at him come July 1.
The team I am talking about is the New York Rangers. With the likes of Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes gone, this team is going to need more scoring next season to go with the likes of Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Pavel Buchnevich, Jimmy Vesey, Filip Chytil, etc.
In that regard, Panarin more than fits the bill. As of this writing Panarin leads the Blue Jackets in scoring with 74 points on 25 goals and 49 assists.
Not only does he lead the team in points, but Panarin has also accomplished the following so f for this Blue Jackets hockey club:
– Second on the team in goals (25)
– First on the team in assists (49)
– First on the team in power play points (16)
– Second on the team in game-winning goals (7)
– First on the team in overtime goals (4)
Clearly, Panarin is doing a lot of offensively for his current hockey club. With 12 games remaining in the season, Panarin should crack the 80-point mark for the second time in his four years in the league.
In his first three seasons in the league, Panarin averaged about 78 points a season. When it comes to the Rangers, they have not had many 70-point players over the past few seasons so Panarin would be more than welcome on this team in that regard.
The Rangers also need a game breaker. They need someone they can count on to come through in the clutch on a consistent basis.
Right now Zibanejad is that guy for the Blueshirts. He currently leads the team with 5 game-winning goals.
In Panarin, the Rangers would get a guy that has a lot of experience when it comes to scoring at the right time. He currently has 7 game-winning goals and in his first four seasons, he has scored at least 5 game-winners each year.
In terms of skill, the Rangers have a few guys that can play that style some of the time. Players like Zibanejad, Kreider, Buchnevich, Chytil, Ryan Strome and Vladislav Namestnikov have all varying degrees of skill that have helped the Rangers in one way or another this season.
With that said, none of these guys have Panarin’s offensive talent. He has speed, he can dangle, he can find open teammates, he can split the seams with a great pass, he has a great shot, and he can dangle with the best of them.
It should also be mentioned that Panarin is still young. He’s just 27-years-old and is just starting to come into his prime. Just imagine what he is going to look like when he is at his peak.
All of the reasons above should be more than enough for the Blueshirts to do everything they can to get him come July. Yes, I realize that it would be cutting into the rebuilding process, but people have to remember that this is New York.
New York sports fans want and need to have success to feel validated. Yes, there is no doubt that Ranger fans understand why the team is rebuilding, trading away popular players, and acquiring picks, which is great.
With that said, these same fans want to see their favorite team get back into the playoffs sooner rather than later. Getting a guy like Panarin would certainly help give the fans what they want.
The Rangers need to follow Nike’s slogan and just do it.
*Photo: Chicago Tribune