Highly-touted free agents Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky are likely headed elsewhere. The Blue Jackets would be wise to gather some compensation rather than having them leave for nothing in return.
Earlier this week, the Philadelphia Flyers traded a fifth-round pick to the Winnipeg Jets for the rights to Kevin Hayes. The 27-year-old center recorded 19 goals and 55 points in the 2018-19 season, one in which he played 51 games for the New York Rangers and 20 games for the Winnipeg Jets.
It's important to note the Flyers did not sign Hayes (yet). They will, however, be the only club able to negotiate with Hayes or even sign him prior to the interview period. However, there's no guarantee Hayes won't go elsewhere, making the trade somewhat of a gamble for Philadelphia.
Unrestricted free agents will have an opportunity to speak in general terms with other teams when the interview period begins on June 23 at 12:01 a.m. ET (the first day following the 2019 NHL Draft) until free agency officially commences at 12:00 p.m. on July 1.
Panarin is the top target in free agency, coming off an 87-point campaign for the Blue Jackets and then adding 11 points in 10 playoff games. Bobrovsky isn't far behind; the two-time winner of the Vezina Trophy had a career-high .925 save% in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, winning six of 10 playoff starts.
The Florida Panthers have nine picks coming up in the 2019 NHL Draft (including three selections in the fourth round), making them a logical choice to vie for the rights to Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, or both.
Considering what was traded for the rights to Hayes, somewhere between a second and a fourth-round pick sounds about right for Bobrovsky or Panarin. If Florida tries to acquire both, a second and fourth-round pick respectively should do the job.