As the Breadman Turns: the Panarin Saga Continues

Where do the Blue Jackets go from here?

Columbus Blue Jackets fans were anticipating the bye week last week - but not just to watch Seth Jones and Cam Atkinson in the All Star Game. No, the Fifth Line was holding their collective breath to hear any news from a scheduled meeting between Artemi Panarin and his agent, Dan Milstein. It was reported earlier in the season they would meet at this point, then touch base with Columbus management about their short and long term plans. The hope is that these conversations would produce some clarity to an uncertain situation. Something to remove the cloud that has hung over the season.

But then we got a curveball yesterday:

What did this mean?

My first reaction was that this was not the worst case scenario. If Panarin were dead set against re-signing in Columbus, there would be no need for a follow-up. If Milstein needed to clear something up, it suggests that Panarin’s status remained “it’s complicated.”

One theory, set forth in The Cannon writers’ Slack by Dan P.:

Just chiming in on that Tweet, with no other context: it feels like a “please don’t trade him” answer, to me.

like, if they’d just said NO I think Jarmo trades him

I think Bread likes playing with Cam and PLD, but doesn’t want to sign a long-term extension. This is the way they can string it along, he can continue to put up his numbers, and then in the summer they can go where they want.

but I’m also cynical as f***, sooooo

like, some kind of weird Tavares-style move

But today, while we waited for further word from Milstein, MrSwift offered a slightly different view:

Thought about it. Either this is him saying he will sign and the deal happens before the deadline, or he’s gone by then. There’s no way this continues to drag out. My money is he’s gone by the time we get back from Vegas.

Tonight, we finally got the official word from the Panarin camp:

I take comfort in the fact that they’re willing to negotiate with Columbus after the season. That leaves the door open to him staying. Others take his refusal to commit already as a sign that “he’s just not that into you.”

Again, the writers’ room was split.

William Chase:

He’s gone

Look for trades

Mr. Swift:

He’s gone.

I’m sick of this ride. Trade the Russians and get what assets you can. Build around 3/8/18 and reload for a better run in a year or two.

But the optimists weighted in as well. Here was Elaine Shircliff:

My take on Panarin is we should just let him focus on the season.

I’m thinking in the now. If he’s not here next year, we’ll live. But he’s here right now and having fun. Let’s enjoy it and everything he has to offer.

I also think he stays.

My own take:

Keep him. Door’s open

It also indicates he’s not going to negotiate with other teams, so his trade value is rental only. And so far those offers aren’t coming through

Keep him, kick ass, and hope for the best

So here are the options facing GM Jarmo Kekalainen between now and next month’s trade deadline:

Option #1: Trade Him

Pros: If he leaves in free agency, all that is left is cap space. By trading him now, you can collect multiple pieces that can help the team going forward, whether it’s draft picks or prospects or current NHL players (or some combination of the three).

Cons: The most obvious con is that moving Panarin takes away the team’s most dynamic player. A team that is in good position to reach the postseason doesn’t usually trade away their leading point scorer. My biggest reservation about trading him is that I don’t think the return will be good enough to justify it. If the right offer were out there, I think Jarmo would have made it by now. I don’t want to repeat the Gaborik trade (which we discussed last week), where we get middling prospects and picks in return. Even if we get a first round pick, it would come from a top team in the league and therefore it would be a late first round pick - which is as much of a lottery ticket as any middle round pick:

Option #2: Keep Him

Pros: You keep your top line together, which is one of the best forward lines in the league. You keep this good team together and see how far they can go. You add a few more pieces at the deadline to help out. Those moves help the mood in the locker room because it shows that management has faith in the players. Trading Panarin would show them the front office is throwing in the towel on the season.

Best case: the team wins a series or two. Bestest case: that success convinces Panarin that it is worth staying here.

Cons: As stated before, there’s the very good chance that Panarin signs elsewhere in free agency, leaving Columbus with a huge hole to fill. If the team keeps Panarin and exits in the first round again, was it worth it to keep him?

So, what do you think will happen, and what should the team do?

What would you do?

He’s gone, trade him.252
He’s gone, but keep him anyway and go for it.203
Keep him because I think he’s staying.67

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