Last year, it was easy to recap Artemi Panarin’s season. The Breadman proved he could succeed away from Patrick Kane, and quickly demonstrated he was the most talented forward Columbus had ever seen.
This time, however, it’s impossible to talk about his season without considering both the positive impact he had on the ice but also the negative impact his contract status had on the locker room (along with that of his countryman Sergei Bobrovsky).
We have spilled much digital ink on this topic since last June. First there was the breaking news ahead of the draft that Panarin was being shopped after informing the team he was not prepared to discuss a contract extension. Then there were further non-commital statements in January after the All Star break. Debate raged as to whether the team was better off keeping Panarin for the stretch run, or trading him before the deadline to get something in return.
After all that, no trade offer was enough to sway GM Jarmo Kekalainen, and Panarin was here for the duration of the season. He led the offense the whole way, setting new franchise records for assists and points in a season - in both cases breaking his own records set last season. If there is one quibble, it’s that his defensive play lagged a bit. He got more offensive zone starts (77.2%, up from 64.5%) but his Corsi dipped slightly (54.8% from 57.0%). He was -2 at home but +16 on the road. Coincidence, or putting on a show for potential suitors?
Jarmo made the decision that the team was better keeping Panarin for the playoffs. He was rewarded, with Panarin leading the team in points for the postseason.
Artemi Panarin 2018-19 Stats
Games played: 79
Time on ice: 19:51
Penalty minutes: 23
Corsi For (5v5): 54.8%
Games played: 10
Time on ice: 21:44
Penalty minutes: 0
Corsi For (5v5): 50.34
Artemi Panarin’s Contract Status
As mentioned, Panarin is an unrestricted free agent on July 1. It seems highly unlikely that he re-signs with the Blue Jackets. It is possible they could trade his negotiating rights for a mid-to-late round draft pick, or work out a sign-and-trade for any team that wants to sign him to an eighth year (which only Columbus can offer). The leading contenders for Panarin’s services appear to be the Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, or New York Islanders.
Panarin had eight game-winning goals this season, with two of them coming in consecutive wins over the Nashville Predators and Washington Capitals. The one over the Caps was especially satisfying, with his teammates borrowing Evgeny Kuznetsov’s trademark celebration to taunt their rivals:
Aside from each time he made us sick to our stomachs with uncertainty, let’s go with a game in October against his former team, the Chicago Blackhawks, in which he was on ice for all goals against in a 4-1 loss.
How would you grade Artemi Panarin’s 2018-19 season?
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