Blue Jackets' star forward Artemi Panarin may not be as solidified to stay in Columbus as many had hoped entering this off-season.
NHL Network's Elliote Friedman reported on Tuesday afternoon that Panarin has told the club that he is not ready to consider an extension "at this time". As a result, the team will be testing the trade market for him:
There is word today that Artemi Panarin has told CLB that he is not ready to consider an extension at this time. (UFA July 2019.) As a result, the Blue Jackets are testing the market for him.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 19, 2018
General Manager Jarmo Kekäläinen released this statement to reporters shortly after:
"Artemi is an elite National Hockey League player. Our position has been that we want him to be a Blue Jacket for many years and that has not changed. He has a year left on his contract, so there is plenty of time to work towards that end. Should anything change moving forward, we will address it at that time and any decision we make will be in the best interest of our club.”
With an already lacking offensive firepower towards the end of this past regular season and into the playoffs, this is certainly not the news the team desired to hear just before the draft.
Panarin finished this previous season for the Blue Jackets with 27 goals and 55 assists, totaling to 82 points. He set franchise records for total assists, total points, and tied the record for assists and points in a single game.