With the NHL trade deadline just over two weeks away, one of the biggest players on the market has switched his agent.
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Artemi Panarin has fired his agent Dan Milstein and hired Paul Theofanous to be his new representative. Theofanous also represents Panarin’s teammate, Sergei Bobrovsky, and both are due to be unrestricted free agents this summer.
The move comes a week after Milstein announced on behalf of his client that Panarin would not negotiate a contract extension with the Blue Jackets until the end of the season.
“We have informed the team that we are willing to discuss Artemi’s future after the season. Our priority now is to focus on the rest of the season, trying to win a Stanley Cup for the CBJ & their fans,” Milstein said in a statement on Jan. 28.
The Blue Jackets have a bright spotlight on them as the Feb. 25 trade deadline gets closer. The team is currently sitting third in the Metropolitan Division with 63 points, but are only three points clear of being outside the playoff picture.
Panarin, who leads the team in scoring, and Bobrovsky, a two-time Vezina trophy winning goaltender, would both be key pieces for the Blue Jackets as they push to make the playoffs. But both players have also indicated they plan on testing the free agent market this summer, leaving the Blue Jackets to decide if they should collect assets at the trade deadline or hold on to their stars.
Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said Friday that he isn’t going to let Panarn’s decision to change agents affect how he approaches the deadline.
“It doesn’t change anything,” Kekalainen said, according to Aaron Portzline of The Athletic. “We approach every player and every situation the same way, no matter who the agent is.”
The Florida Panthers have been rumoured to be interested in Bobrovsky, and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggested in his 31 Thoughts blog this week that Mike Hoffman could be part of the return if the Panthers pursue a trade.
Whatever happens, Panarin and Bobrovsky will be front and centre in rumours and reports until the deadline passes. And the fact that they now share an agent will only lead to more speculation about their futures.