Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky may go on different paths this summer, but they also may stick together.
They share the same agent, Paul Theofanous. Panarin and Bobrovsky are Theofanous's biggest contracts by AAV (average annual value), and it's not close. Both contracts expire this summer.
Bobrovsky's contract had an AAV of $7.425 million for 2018-19 and Panarin's carried an AAV of $6 million. Both will be looking for a (big) raise with their new deals, and it probably won't be the Blue Jackets giving it to them.
The two Russians are good friends, as are their families. “Our girls have become close,” Bobrovsky told George Richards of The Athletic. “They spend so much time together when we are away, so it is nice to have this sort of a close relationship between us all. It is fun, for sure. It’s cool. And it’s interesting.”
So, could a package deal be on the cards? And is it a deal that the Blue Jackets could potentially benefit from?
Yes, and yes.
The advantage of a sign-and-trade is clear for both teams involved. If the Blue Jackets were to sign Panarin, Bobrovsky, or both, and then deal them to another team, the Blue Jackets would most likely receive a good amount of compensation in terms of draft picks or players — a welcome sight for Columbus, because Panarin and Bobrovsky would likely leave with no compensation for Columbus otherwise. It's also a welcome sight for Columbus because the Blue Jackets desperately need to recoup some of their draft picks that they gave away at this year's trade deadline.
The team that acquires the player(s) in a sign-and-trade does not have to negotiate a new contract with them or compete with other teams for their signature(s).
It's important to note: a sign-and-trade has never happened in the NHL. If it goes down with the Blue Jackets, it would be historically significant. There have, however, been instances closely resembling a sign-and-trade. In 2005, the Ottawa Senators signed Marian Hossa to a three-year contract. On the same day that Hossa signed, he and Greg de Vries were dealt to the Atlanta Thrashers (now the Winnipeg Jets) for Dany Heatley.
Conversely, the Blue Jackets could also look for the opposite: a trade-and-sign. With this option, the Blue Jackets could also receive compensation of some sort for Panarin and/or Bobrovsky. The Blue Jackets would not have to negotiate a new contract with Panarin and/or Bobrovsky — the obligation for that would fall to their new team.
If a team were to agree to this, they would be offering the Blue Jackets compensation in exchange for early negotiating rights with Panarin and/or Bobrovsky. If their new team is unable to sign them to a contract, they would still become unrestricted free agents on July 1.
A destination that has been floated around as likely for both Panarin and Bobrovsky, and therefore, the most likely for a package deal, is the Florida Panthers. This summer, the Panthers are expected to have $21.975 million in cap space, per CapFriendly. That's enough room to add both Bobrovsky and Panarin to the roster.
According to Craig Custance for The Athletic, Florida "remains the front-runner to sign Panarin." If Panarin went to Florida, he'd reunite with Joel Quenneville, his first NHL head coach. Buckle your seatbelts, folks. This summer is going to be a wild ride.