NHL Free Agency: Artemi Panarin Suitors, Repercussions, Zuc

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NEW YORK, NY – With NHL Free Agency starting Monday, Rangers fans are wondering whether the Blueshirts will land a Blue JacketNFL Football, MLB Baseball, NHL HockeyArtemi Panarin. The 27-year-old forward is one of the top free agents on the market and has plenty of suitors. The Broadway Blues are in the mix but they’re not the favorites. The Panthers currently lead the pack with the Islanders and Devils also in the mix.

Panarin is looking for about $12 million per year, which is just under 15% of next year’s salary cap of $81.5 million. The Rangers signing Panarin would effectively end the current rebuild and would definitely eliminate any chance of re-signing Chris Kreider next year.

I don’t think Panarin will sign with NY and I’m hoping he doesn’t. I’m hoping JD (John Davidson) continues the rebuild for another season, so we can I think he’ll end up in Florida where he won’t have to pay state income tax. I think his teammate Sergei Bobrovsky will join him there also.

Another free agent the Rangers are eyeing closely is Mats Zuccarello, who they traded at the deadline to the Dallas Stars. I would like for the Rangers to sign Zuc and bring him back to New York, but the 31-year old is in talks with the Stars about staying in Dallas and also wants to test the open market. If Zuccarello does re-sign with Dallas, the Rangers will get the Stars’ first round draft pick next year.

Jun 21, 2019; Vancouver, BC, Canada; Kaapo Kakko receives a team cap after being selected as the number tow overall pick to the New York Rangers in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena. (Photo: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

I’m not sure how active the Rangers will be once Free Agency opens up on Monday. They’re doing well so far with the rebuild and I’m thinking the Panarin talk is just to drive the price up for the other bidders. JD & Co drafted Finnish phenom Kaapo Kakko, who should spend a good part of next season with the Rangers. The right winger has the size and the skill set to develop into a top line player.

But the buzz around town is the Rangers’ #9 pick from last year’s draft, Vitali Kravtsov, who wowed the onlookers in a prospects scrimmage on Wednesday. Kravtsov recently signed a 3-year entry contract and should be set to join the Rangers squad this coming season. It remains to be seen whether Russian goaltending prospect Igor Shestyorkin will sign with the club and come to North America for next season. The time feels right, but that remains to be seen.

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There are some good young players coming through the ranks and I’d like to see what the kids can do with the senior squad next year. This is why I’m hoping that the Panarin talk is just that. A long contract for that much money will hamstring the Rangers going forward.

We’ll see how things play out on Monday. NHL Free Agency passes quickly. The deals are all worked out beforehand and the contracts are signed and announced on July 1st. The news of signings will come thick and fast on Monday. We’ll see how things go for the Blueshirts, but with JD back in town, I don’t think the current rebuild will be in any jeopardy.

Come back tomorrow for a man that lives in jeopardy just for fun, Junoir Blaber.

 

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Different Matt is our cunning Cornell grad/rugby player. "Diff" joined us just after the switch from being "Mets only" to an all-sports stop. He's a Yankee fan; thus he was "different." Aside from the Yanks, he's a diehard NY Giants, NY Rangers and NY Knicks fan. He also likes long walks on the beach and cappuccinos and nearly died in Las Vegas.

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