Artemi Panarin agrees to record seven-year, $81.5M with Rangers

After the Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Islanders, Florida Panthers and Colorado Avalanche all made huge pitches to try and convince Artemi Panarin to join their squads, it ends up being the New York Rangers who will acquire his services moving forward. The Rangers have agreed to terms on a seven-year, $81.5M deal with Panarin.

Panarin, 27, was the consensus No. 1 in our Top 50 UFAs this season and will immediately become the highest-paid winger in the entire NHL. His cap hit is will be more than $1M higher than Patrick Kane’s $10.5M from several years ago and well ahead of the recent market set by Nikita Kucherov and Mark Stone at $9.5M. Part of that is the fact that he actually got to unrestricted free agency, but there is good reason to think he will be able to perform at a high level for quite some time.

In the four years he has played in North America, the originally undrafted Panarin has only gotten better. Setting a career high with 87 points last season in just 79 games, he proved that he could create offense with any type of linemate and established himself as a legitimate superstar in the NHL. That’s exactly what the Rangers were waiting for and have now had quite the summer. They already traded for both Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba to improve their blue line and drafted Kaapo Kakko second overall. Panarin’s contract is extremely expensive but also puts the Rangers in line to compete for the playoffs as soon as next season.

By: Gavin Lee

Original Article

How close are the Penguins to becoming the Blackhawks or Kings?

Dynasties don’t always fade away. Sometimes they just crumble and collapse into a smoldering pile of ruin that cannibalizes itself and everything around it.

Sure, we sometimes throw the word “dynasty” around in sports a little too loosely, and I admit I am probably doing that here for the purpose of this argument, but hey … I needed a starting point. Even though NHL’s salary cap era has not produced a true “dynasty” comparable to the likes of the Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, or Montreal Canadiens, there have been three teams that have stood out above the pack and achieved a level of success no other team has come close to matching.

The Los Angeles Kings won two Stanley Cups in three years.

The Chicago Blackhawks won three in six.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have won three (with a fourth appearance in the Stanley Cup Final) in 10 years.

Those three teams have combined to win eight of the Stanley Cups in the salary cap era, including eight of the previous 10.

While none of them on their own qualify as a true “dynasty,” they have still been the defining teams of this era.

Two of them, the Blackhawks and Kings, are already in the smoldering pile phase of their franchise progression.

The Kings have missed the playoffs more than they’ve made them since winning their second Stanley Cup in 2014, have not won a playoff series, and just wrapped up a 2018-19 season where they spent the year competing with the Ottawa Senators for the worst record in the league.

The Blackhawks have not won a playoff series in three years since their 2015 Stanley Cup win and have missed the playoffs in each of the past two seasons.

Is this sort of bleak stretch in the Penguins’ future? Well, the long-term answer is most certainly yes, it is, because Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are not going to play forever, and there is going to come a point even when they are playing that they may not be able to carry the team to the playoffs. Hell, you don’t have to look far to see the track the Penguins have been on the past two years, going from back-to-back Stanley Cups, to a second-round exit, to a first-round sweep after clinching a playoff spot in Game 81 of the regular season.

That is coming down from the top of the mountain, friends, and there is nothing wrong with that. Nobody stays at the top forever, and at least if you are a Penguins, Kings, or Blackhawks fan you have a bunch of banners to show for it.

As the old saying goes: Banners hang forever.

But how close are the Penguins to truly falling to the bottom and living in the reality that Blackhawks and Kings have spent the past few years in (and maybe the next couple, at least)?

It will happen at some point, but I’m not sure the Penguins are there just quite yet.

First, even though the “core” of Crosby, Malkin, Letang, etc. are getting older, I feel like they have more of a graceful decline ahead of them than the core players of the Kings and Blackhawks.

The Kings’ core really wasn’t that impressive to begin with, was it?

Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty are great — but that was about it. Their run of championships was never one that was built on skill or remarkably deep rosters. It was built on suffocating, systematic defensive work and hoping that Jonathan Quick could catch fire for a couple of months and rise above his otherwise mediocre track record as an NHL starting goalie. I’m not saying the Kings were frauds as champions (they were a legitimately great for three years!) but they just didn’t seem to have the type of roster that was set-up for long-term, sustained success over a decade or so.

Once their handful of high-level players started to slow down, there wasn’t much left around them to make up for it. When a player like, say, Dustin Brown loses a step, he doesn’t have much else to fall back on.

The Blackhawks are a little tougher to get a read on on where things went so sideways for them.

Corey Crawford’s health issues over the past two years have definitely had a negative impact on their overall performance, and when you lose a really good starting goalie and don’t have anyone to fall back on, that is going to create a lot of problems. I also think a lot of the Blackhawks’ problems are a little self-inflicted in the sense that they stayed too loyal to the wrong players (see: Seabrook, Brent) and made some irrational decisions based on one bad postseason result (trading a first-line player like Artemi Panarin to bring back a lesser player in Brandon Saad — one that they were, again, probably staying too loyal to because of the team success).

Full Article

By: Gretz

10 thoughts after the NHL trade deadline

In a lot of ways the 2019 NHL trade deadline was a predictable one.

The Ottawa Senators sold off their few remaining good players. The Nashville Predators were heavy buyers. Teams like the Calgary Flames and New York Islanders that appear to be ahead of schedule did not mess with what has worked for them so far and decided to stay the course and see where their current rosters can take them. There also were not really any major shockers, outside of maybe Mikael Granlund being traded by Minnesota, in terms of the players who did get moved.

But there were still a few surprises thrown in.

The Columbus Blue Jackets went wild and mortgaged their short-term future for the hope of even shorter-term success, the San Jose Sharks doubled down on their confidence in Martin Jones, the Vegas Golden Knights went after the big fish again and the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals made some minor tweaks to their rosters.

We examine all of that and more with 10 thoughts and observations after the NHL trade deadline.

1.  Columbus has everything riding on this season

Keeping Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky was a pretty good indication that the Columbus Blue Jackets were willing to see what they could do this season instead of being resigned to the fact they will lose both over the summer, and thus trading them before the deadline. But then they doubled down on that by being the biggest buyers at the deadline by giving up draft picks and prospects for rentals Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, Adam McQuaid and Keith Kinkaid. That leaves the Blue Jackets with six unrestricted free agents after this season (including Panarin, Bobrovsky, Duchene and Dzingel) and only two draft picks in the 2019 class: a third-rounder and a seventh-rounder. That is the definition of “all-in.” The wild thing about this is that they are not even a lock to make the playoffs. This could all go south very quickly if they do not secure one of the top eight seeds in the Eastern Conference.

2. The Sharks have everything riding on Martin Jones

The San Jose Sharks made themselves better at the trade deadline by getting Gustav Nyquist from the Detroit Red Wings, making an already deep team that much stronger. They did not, however, address the biggest question mark facing them: goaltending. The tag-team duo of Martin Jones and Aaron Dell has not played up to a championship level this season and that could prove to be the team’s ultimate undoing in the playoffs. Jones has never been one to steal games for the Sharks, but he has always been, at worst, a league-average to slightly above-league-average starter. If he can return to that form and play at that level, the Sharks will be a formidable team in the playoffs. If he does not, it could derail a potential championship season.

3. The Flames have a lot of faith in their team

The San Jose Sharks added Nyquist. The Vegas Golden Knights added Mark Stone. The Nashville Predators added Mikael Granlund and Wayne Simmonds. The Winnipeg Jets added Kevin Hayes. All of the top contenders in the Western Conference added a significant player. The Calgary Flames? Added Oscar Fantenberg. A depth defender. No insurance in goal. No additional depth up front. They are riding into the playoffs with the team that has gotten them to this point in the season. Sometimes that is a good thing.

4. The Detroit Red Wings probably should have done more

It is a few years overdue, but the Detroit Red Wings have finally started to rebuild their aging, expensive, declining roster. They have assembled a ton of draft picks and have at least set themselves up for a chance to restock the cupboards. But why didn’t they do more? Trading Nyquist was a necessary move, given his pending status as a UFA, but was there really no market for Jimmy Howard, Niklas Kronwall, Thomas Vanek or any other veteran on the team? It just seems like there was a chance here to move more players and get even more draft picks for the future.

5. The Nashville Predators love blockbusters

David Poile has assembled a powerhouse team in Nashville and somehow still kept his team well under the league’s salary cap. He’s also scored some of the biggest trades in the NHL over the past few years acquiring P.K. Subban, Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, and Kyle Turris as part of blockbuster deals. He added to that at the trade deadline by pulling a stunner when he sent Kevin Fiala to the Minnesota Wild for Granlund and then acquiring Simmonds from the Philadelphia Flyers. Oh, and don’t forget about that pre-deadline deal to get Brian Boyle from the New Jersey Devils. That is what going all in looks like for a Stanley Cup contender, and, amazingly, his team is still in a great position under the salary cap in future seasons. A lot of times when GM’s swing for the fences on big trades, they start to eventually come up empty. That has yet to happen for Poile, who just keeps hitting home runs.

6. The Vegas Golden Knights go big

Even though they were in the Stanley Cup Final a year ago, it is still remarkable to see the Vegas Golden Knights, in Year 2 of their existence, going after the big-ticket players. They went all in trying to get Erik Karlsson. When that failed they traded for Max Pacioretty and signed Paul Stastny. Now they pulled off one of the biggest scores of the deadline in getting Stone from the Ottawa Senators, then agreed to a new contract. Stone is a star, a true top-line winger, and a player who can make a difference for an already strong team that is a contender. He is still in the prime of his career, making this a huge score for both the short term and long term.

7. Did Boston do enough?

The Boston Bruins are an outstanding team and a sneaky contender in the Eastern Conference, getting lost in the shadow of Tampa Bay and Toronto. But the top half of their lineup is as good as anybody’s in the league, and they have two goalies playing at an extremely high level in Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. Their big question has been depth, as there has been little offensive production after Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, David Krejci, Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug (when they are healthy). They attempted to address that by acquiring Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson. They are solid additions, and Johansson has been especially hot lately now that he is healthy. But will they be enough to get the Bruins through what will almost certainly be a daunting playoff run in the Atlantic Division that will probably include both the Maple Leafs and Lightning?

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By: Adam Gretz

Artemi Panarin doesn’t want to be traded, will discuss future with Columbus

Beginning this offseason, the rumblings that star forward Artemi Panarin did not want to re-sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets created the impression that a blockbuster trade was inevitable prior to the end of this season, when Panarin becomes an unrestricted free agent. That no longer appears to be the case. In the midst of another strong season for both Panarin and his team, the high-scoring winger is hoping to stay in Columbus through the end of the season, his agent, Dan Milstein, told TSN’s “Leafs Lunch” on Friday. Panarin is also reportedly opening up to the idea of an extension with the Blue Jackets.

Milstein stated that he and Panarin plan to meet over the All-Star break in late January to discuss the future. Part of that conversation will be about a potential long-term fit with the Blue Jackets. “He likes it in Columbus. They have a very good, young team…Management has been nothing but great to him. … He wants to help the team to win the Stanley Cup,” Milstein said.

Panarin is a competitive player, and Milstein made it clear that last season’s early playoff exit bothered the all-world winger, and he hopes to lead the team deeper into the postseason this year. There is also the potential for a long-term fit in Columbus, as Milstein applauded the efforts of young center Pierre-Luc Dubois and said that Panarin has enjoyed playing alongside him this season. While Panarin leads the Jackets with 41 points, the sophomore centerman is not far behind with 32. The promise of that pairing moving forward could be a vital factor in Panarin’s decision.

However, other teams and their rosters will certainly be considered. Milstein was honest that he and Panarin will likely begin discussing his potential fits with other teams when they meet next month. Panarin, still just 27, will likely be the most sought-after forward on the free agent market if he opts to leave Columbus and could pick almost any team to play for given his unique skill set. It has previously been reported that Panarin prefers to play in a coastal metropolitan area, with many speculating that the three New York-area teams, all of whom are in comfortable salary-cap situations, are possible fits, while Boston, Florida, Carolina or one of the three California teams would also be logical landing spots. The competitive Panarin also wants a chance to win the Stanley Cup. Even though he will almost certainly sign a seven-year contract at a minimum and a lot can change in that time, teams’ recent success and talent pool moving forward will also weigh heavily on his decision. As Milstein stated, they believe that the Blue Jackets are one of those talented, young teams that will be a contender moving forward.

One thing that will not affect Panarin’s decision is the future of Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, at least not in a personal sense. Although the two are good friends, Milstein said that “they are in no way going to be going as a package.” Bobrovsky appears to be headed for the free agent market, but his likely departure does not necessarily mean that Panarin will leave Columbus simply because his friend is gone. However, how the Jackets plan to handle the massive hole that Bobrovksy would leave in net will definitely be a part of Panarin’s calculations.

By Zach Leach

Full Article

Blackhawks Win 7th Straight


Written by Chris Hine at Chicago Tribune.com

Amid the furor of players packing and equipment managers loading bags for the flight home in the Blackhawks’ dressing room, winger Artemi Panarin stopped at Corey Crawford’s locker stall.

The two gave each other a fist bump. It was hard to tell what was said, or if they even could understand each other, given that Panarin speaks little English. But their wide smiles conveyed the sense of relief and elation after a 2-1 overtime victory over the Blues gave the Hawks their seventh consecutive triumph.

It was hard-fought, especially for Panarin, who used both of his fists moments earlier in an unusual fight with Scottie Upshall in the third period.

“I’ve seen his Instagram, he was boxing quite a bit this summer,” defenseman Brent Seabrook said of Panarin, who took up Thai boxing in the offseason. “He can chuck ’em. He’s a feisty guy.”

But after cooling off in the penalty box, Panarin provided the winning goal on a wrist shot 25 seconds into overtime for his sixth goal of the season.

The Hawks were only in the extra period thanks to another sterling effort from Crawford, who had 27 saves and had a shutout going until Alex Pietrangelo tied the game 1-1 at 17:40 of the third period.

“He has been the backbone,” Seabrook said.

Crawford’s night included a jaw-dropping skate save on Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko, a save reminiscent of one Scott Darling had against Patrick Eaves to preserve a Hawks’ victory over the Stars in overtime Sunday.

“I saw he was going on the backhand and he didn’t shoot right away,” Crawford said. “He kind of wound up with it. He just tried to force it in there and it gave me enough time to get over. … (I’m in) a good spot right now but there’s always room for improvement.”

But there isn’t much room, not with how Crawford has played lately. He has allowed just four goals in his last five games.

Before the game, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock was marveling at how the first-place Hawks have been able to get off to such a fast start even with several young players filling out the roster. His explanation was simple.

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