Any NHL team wishing to acquire a young, dynamic top-20 scorer might want to consider giving the Columbus Blue Jackets a call.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, star forward Artemi Panarin isn’t interested in talking about a contract extension at this time and now the team is “testing the market for him.”
The Russian has one year remaining on his current deal and is set to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2018-19 campaign.
Currently the highest-paid skater on Columbus with a salary cap hit of $6 million, Panarin would in theory be in for a nice raise after averaging nearly 78 points in each of his first three NHL seasons and coming off a career year in which he set a franchise record with 82 points in 81 games played.
The Blue Jackets aren’t up against the cap as it stands right now, yet they do need to re-sign pending restricted free agents Boone Jenner, Ryan Murray and Oliver Bjorkstrand this summer and next year they’ll have eight notable RFAs to deal with, including Zach Werenski and Joonas Korpisalo.
The 26-year-old was acquired by the Blue Jackets in June 2017 as part of the deal that sent Brandon Saad back to Chicago. Panarin spent his first two NHL seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks after an impressive stint with SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL.