Artemi Panarin’s long-term future with the Columbus Blue Jackets remains a mystery. The forward is entering the final year of the two-year, $12-million deal he signed in 2016 and he has reportedly set a Sept. 13 deadline to discuss his current contract situation—after which all off-ice discussions will be put on hold.
If he does hit free agency next summer, one team that would be “very seriously considered” by Panarin would be his former club, the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report from Scott Powers of The Athletic.
Panarin spent his first two NHL seasons with the Blackhawks, registering 151 points in 162 games, after an impressive stint with SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL.
The 26-year-old was acquired by the Blue Jackets in June of 2017 as part of the trade that sent Brandon Saad back to Chicago.
Panarin set a career and franchise high with 82 points in his first season in Columbus. The Russian ranks seventh in the NHL in total points over the past three seasons.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported in June that because Panarin wasn’t interested in talking about a contract extension at the time the team was “testing the market for him.” If the new Sept. 13 deadline comes and goes without the two sides agreeing to an extension, there’s potential for things to get interesting.