Late-night plot twist!
Jarmo Kekalainen has said time and again that he'll do whatever he can to convince Artemi Panarin to stick around in Columbus. And while it's seemed for a while that the door was closed, Kekalainen has reportedly kicked down the door with a bag full of money.
The Blue Jackets are making a huge, 11th-hour offer to Panarin in an attempt to keep him in Columbus for the next eight years. Is it a Hail Mary? Probably. Is it a swing worth taking? You better believe it.
Hearing AAV could be $13M. Dont know if its the exact number but the biddings are high. https://t.co/Cgbcib4cjl— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) July 1, 2019
Now, if there's a team that is positioned well enough to a) hand out a contract worth near-$13M annually and b) still build out their team, it's the Blue Jackets. Matt Duchene is off to Nashville and Sergei Bobrovsky is likely headed to the Florida Panthers, and the Blue Jackets still have some major pieces to work with.
Aaron Portzline of The Athletic and The Dispatch's Michael Arace have also reported on the Blue Jackets' massive last-minute bombshell, take-it-or-leave-it offer. Reports have it pegged anywhere between $12M and $13M annually, and the eighth year – which is only on the table until midnight EST on July 1, per rules of the CBA – is a big deal.
This is the Blue Jackets saying: "Bread Man, if you're leaving, you're going to need to look $100-plus million in the eye before you go." And that's a hell of a move to make, a bold move, to show your team, your fans, and your organization that you're serious about winning no matter what happens with Panarin's decision.