To a certain extent, I feel for Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen, I really do. It can’t be easy to put together a team in Columbus, Ohio. When you’re trying to competing against teams from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Florida, Vegas, and more for free agents, Columbus just doesn’t stack up. The biggest draw to the city is underage college kids looking to get drunk in their buddy’s dorm at Ohio State. The only people that want to live in Ohio are people that were born there. Even then they’re going to Cincinnati of Cleveland. For that reason I do feel for Jarmo. A little.
Kekalainen’s biggest problem is that his star player was not born in Ohio. It’s been pretty well documented now that the biggest hangup for the Breadman is contract length. Namely, he doesn’t want to spend eight years in Columbus. His agent even said to the Athletic last week that if it was a two year deal, it would probably be done. Yesterday Jarmo and Panarin met in Paris to try to work things out but according to Aaron Portzline of the Athletic there was no progress made.
So really today’s update is that there is no update. Panarin doesn’t want to spend a long time in Columbus. I can’t really blame him for that. I went to college in Ohio. It’s a fun place with a lot of fun people but if I was making $6 million a year I would have been out of there in a heartbeat. On the other hand, the Blue Jackets want to keep the Breadman for as long as possible which I also understand. Panarin had a career year last year and proved that he can produce on his own. He’s a 26 year old 30 goal scorer entering the heart of his prime. I can tell you first hand how much it hurts to lose a player like that. You don’t want to let him go for free but no matter what trade you make you’re almost automatically going to lose. So I understand both side. But I understand Panarin’s side a little bit more.
You might think that I side with Panarin because James O’Brien of Pro Hockey Talk suggested that the Blackhawks might be a landing spot for Panarin. With the newly opened cap space from the Hossa dump. I will admit, something moved when I saw that. But quite honestly, I almost don’t want that. Despite what they may think and say, I don’t believe the Hawks are in a position to seriously compete in 2018-19. The Hawks need offensive help but I’m not sure that one year of Panarin will do the trick. Unless they can lock him down long term, I don’t want to see Panarin a Blackhawks jersey again. I’m not sure I can handle such heartbreak twice in one lifetime.