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So Long Bobrovsky and Panarin? Smile, It’ll be Just Fine

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Rather than worry about Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin sticking around, I say it’s time to trade away — if the return is worth it — and lift the black cloud.

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Super Bowl has come and gone, meaning spring is starting to poke its head around the corner. Which could also mean the hockey playoff stretch is in full-swing. The deadline is weeks away. Who knows what actually happens. It certainly seems more foregone than not that one of, if not both Bobrovsky and Panarin, head out of the 614.

Sometimes I have to ponder my next topic. Other times, a topic takes form before I’ve even started, living a life of its own, and evolving as I delve deeper.

In thinking about a piece this go around, I am offering my unfiltered, specific thoughts on just what I’m thinking about with this franchise in the present moment. And that feeling I have is a renewed breath of fresh air and sense of relief. That is, once the Jackets actually trade Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin.

New York Rangers v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

At least, that’s my feeling as it looks like a potential trade plays out and my feeling once that actually comes to fruition.

(Well, it might not actually happen that way. But regardless, I’m over the dragging on and the likely inevitable of both walking away for nothing. With that said, don't make a trade just to make a trade.)

I’m ready for the black cloud of uncertainty over how the future with the two Russian stars plays out. And everyone needs to move on. Let Florida give Bobrovsky eight years, if they dare. If Artemi is happier spending the next eight years or so under the sun on the beaches of Miami, I can’t say I would blame him.

But I also don’t know that you can expect any more winning than he’s accustomed to with his still-current team. I get Florida has a lot of potential and talent, but in that same vein, they’ve already squandered talent to begin with. Offense hasn’t been a problem for them.

Our sister site, Litter Box Cats, recently talked with us about that potential trading between Columbus and Florida, offering perspective on the chatter centering around Bobrovsky and Panarin.

There was talk that James Reimer and Derick Brassard would be included in the deal coming back the other way. Reimer isn’t a UFA until 2021-22, making $3 million per year until then. If the Jackets took that on, do they trade Korpisalo? Brassard would likely just be a rental piece, I would assume, as he’s up at the end of the year.

However much or little stock you want to put in this rumor.

Oh, there was also this bombshell which just dropped, make of that what you will.

Initially, I raised a brow when I saw Panarin switched agents during my lunch break, but when looking at Portzline’s, and other tweets on the topic more closely, Panarin just looks to be possibly teaming up with Bob on the business side as well.

You, or even the old me, might be calling shenanigans and wondering with amazement how I could even say just trade these centerpieces. Maybe you’re screaming to go all-in with the current group and try to win before the Russians probably leave? Why? Does anyone really think this team can even get out of the first round?

Adding a rental by the deadline isn’t out of the realm of possibility, and a likely scenario that plays out for Jarmo Kekäläinen and his team. We all thirsted for winning hockey in Central Ohio and consecutive playoff appearances. We’ve seen that play out the last couple seasons, and they are on the right track to continue that this season. But at the same time, we’ve seen what plays out with this group. Bob goes and you gain more cap space, same with Panarin. (I’m all for retaining Panarin but that seems unlikely).

Panarin has been a consummate professional throughout his UFA season, but he has had one foot out the door since his arrival. He certainly had no obligation or even a reason to commit before this coming summer.

I’m certainly not sold on playoff Bob, and, especially not on giving 30-year-old Bobrovsky a long-term deal. I get going all-in for the remainder of this season if a deal just isn’t to be had by the Feb. 25 deadline. But if a reasonable deal can play out for Columbus, I’d consider that more so than worrying about the playoffs. Don’t get me wrong, I want them in the playoffs but I’m realistic, and I’m not as concerned with just making it with Bobrovsky and Panarin.

We’ve grown accustomed to regular season, Vezina-winning, Bobrovsky. He stole so many games for Columbus over the seasons with his play in goal. Take him off those teams and maybe they don’t sniff the playoffs. So how good of a team are you when you take that equation out of the mix? Do you go all-in max deal for a goalie that has playoff numbers like this?

Via Hockey Reference

I get that some aren’t sold on Joonas Korpisalo. Elvis Merzlikins is exciting and we’ll likely get a good look at him next year in some capacity. But with certainty, I can say you can be ecstatic about center Pierre-Luc Dubois, Wingers Cam Atkinson and Josh Anderson, defenseman Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. You hope some others continue to evolve like an Oliver Bjorkstrand. You wonder what’s going to happen with Alexander Wennberg. Maybe Marty St. Louis — Saint St. Louis as Pale Dragon canonized him — can fix him, as well as the power play. The latter has actually worked better so far (9-for-30 over their last 12 games.)

The Wennberg-goal pace is already better with Marty than without!

A lot of the negative murkiness I felt with this team was relieved somewhat with the wins against the Avalanche and Coyotes. But I'm realistic. And I'm excited for the future of this team after Bob and Bread.