By the end of the NHL trade deadline on February 25, there are almost every day new rumors about who can be accessed and which teams are interested. However, the biggest addition that any team could make as a rental is there as a name before the start of the season: Artemis Panarin.
Panarin's career is nothing more than glamor, spending two seasons with Chicago Blackhooks on line with Patrick Cain wondering if it's a product of the American superstar followed by the last season and a half in Columbus where it was even more impressive without to have a linear level of the elite.
With 291 career games in the regular season, Panarin gained 290 points, placing him seventh in NHL at that time behind Kane, Nikita Kucherov, Connor McDavid, Sydney Crosby, Blake Wheeler and Johnny Gadro. When you cut things down to more points, Panarin is third behind McDavid and Cain with 137. This is an elite company, and none of these other names can ever be made available. But Panarin is an unrestricted free agent after this season and says he wants to play near the ocean.
As the season progressed, Panarin seemed ready to think about staying in Columbus, but a statement from his agent recently threw water on this idea, saying that Panarin would not discuss anything by the end of the season.
This is an unpleasant situation for Blue Jake to do. Sergey Bobrovski is in a similar situation, although he appears to be less likely to return, so there is a pretty decent chance that Panarin may be a competing team.
Why the team should want Panarin
Beyond the offensive components of his game, which are obvious, Panarin is one of the biggest players in the league's transition, and his defensive play is also not something to be ignored.
The transition is the place where I would be most focused because as I was ranked as the third best left wing in the game coming in the season behind Brad Marandd and Taylor Hall when it comes to moving the puck from the defensive zone to the offensive zone, he is not better in his position.
Overall, Panarin makes 24.5 transition games in 20 minutes of ice, but if you are a team that wants to improve this area of the game, where exactly does Panarin stand?
The better question might be, "Where does Panarin stand out?" He does not like to carry the puck through the red line very often compared to other blue jackets ahead, but everything else does more often.
At area outposts, Panarin is a single-zone cleaning machine that carries and transmits the puck more often than any other Blue Jacket, while at the same time it is available for exit gaps when it's not the puck. In the neutral zone, he is involved in the movement of a washer, the creation of strips to enter the area and the completion of more offensive zones through passageways than all NHLs except Mikael Baclund.
While Blue Jackets as a team prefer to throw the puck, Panarin bears nearly three times as much as the rest of the list.
Even if we take the next best transition in the Blue Jackets at Pierre-Luc Dubeau, he finishes almost seven lesser transitions in 20 minutes, like Panarin, which so far turns to about 300 less a year.
As one person's shot goes, especially on the wing, there is not much bigger than Panarin – no wonder why he sports an absurdly impressive Corsi of a high team with his teammates of +10.56 according to Corsica.
Playoffs whose offenders are struggling with transient games such as Nashville and Dallas or teams struggling to move the ice as a whole, such as the Islanders and Maple Leafs, can see that Panarin adds a whole new dimension to his list.
Should Columbus keep it?
The only ploy in all this is that Columbus Blue Jackets are in a playoff position, and while they just behave, they have to be tempted to take on Panarin and Bobrovsky and try to make a success in the playoffs for the franchise it's a knock on the door for several years.
I would not want to guess that there is no difference between a team that brings the rent to Panarin, and the blue jackets treat it as a rent. It is quite different to add a player from the Panarin caliber to a team that is already a contender for the playoffs than to keep it, and the argument that they would not spend assets to hold it does not work for me.
While Columbus does not have to spend anything but Panarin's salary to keep it for the remainder of the year, they would actually spend the potential assets they would get in a deal.
That said, Panarin's loss would make the best of Blue Jackets feed at best and miss the playoffs at worst, so the question is, "What's more valuable: potential assets in exchange for Panarin marketing or success in the playoffs?
This is something that can only be judged by a glance, but for a team like Columbus, which will probably take several years to reach that level again if Bobrovsky and Panarin leave the season, you should think that the potential for winning on a series of playoffs or even two, costs more of Blue Jackets as a franchise than a low first round and a few perspectives.
At one point, the teams must stop rotating their wheels and get into everything, and keeping Panarin and Bobrovski to playoff play would not lose them for anything – it could be a turning point for a franchise.