Report: ‘No contract progress’ between Panarin, Blue Jackets

Columbus Blue Jackets' Artemi Panarin, right, of Russia, carries the puck on a breakaway against Philadelphia Flyers' Shayne Gostisbehere. (Jay LaPrete/AP)

Monday’s meeting between Columbus Blue Jackets forward Artemi Panarin and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen may not have been as fruitful as fans might have hoped.

According to The Athletic‘s Aaron Portzline, “no contract progress” was made between the two sides.

Panarin is heading into the final season of the two-year, $12-million bridge contract he signed with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2016 and will hit unrestricted free agency next July 1 if he doesn’t sign an extension before that. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported last month that Panarin was not ready to consider an extension “at this time” and that the Blue Jackets were “testing the market” for the winger despite Kekalainen’s hopes of keeping him in Columbus.

According to Panarin’s agent, Dan Milstein, the main issue isn’t term or money but rather location.

“[Panarin] loves the team, he loves the coach. It’s not the team or the way they treat him,” Milstein told Portzline last week. “It’s about, does he want to spend the next eight years in Columbus? That’s the only thing at stake right now. If it was a two-year deal we probably would have done it.

“But it isn’t a two-year deal. It’s gonna have to be an extended, seven- or eight-year deal put in place.”

Wherever he ends up signing, it’ll certainly be a sizeable upgrade from his current $6-million cap hit. The 26-year-old left-winger is coming off his best season yet, leading Columbus in goals (27), assists (55) and total points (82) over 81 games in 2017-18. He has registered 88 goals and 233 points over the course of his three NHL seasons.

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