Over half a year after the departure of John Tavares, the Islanders faithful are hoping for a more successful free agency period this coming July. One player who could be up for grabs is Columbus winger Artemi Panarin, whose contract expires at the end of this season. Although many teams desire to sign him if he does indeed become a UFA next summer, the Islanders have a genuine chance at acquiring the Bread Man. But what can the Islanders offer Panarin?
Panarin would have the chance to play in a system run by future Hall of Fame GM Lou Lamoriello, who is undoubtedly one of the best in the league today and has been over the past quarter-century. Not only do the Islanders have a solid front office, but they also have a strong presence behind the bench. Fresh off a Stanley Cup victory, Barry Trotz has singlehandedly revived a team considered to be dead in the water six months ago. Players are thriving in Trotz’s system, which would undoubtedly entice Panarin as he continues to watch the current success while playing on a division rival. Also, Trotz recently passed Islanders legend Al Arbour in career coaching wins. Further success this season from the Islanders is sure to catch his eye.
Tavares’s departure last offseason was a blessing for the Islanders’ cap structure. Now boasting some of the highest cap space in the league, the Isles are able to give Panarin the money he wants. A potential contract for Lou to dish out could end up lasting seven years and averaging upwards of nine million a year.
Most have assumed that Panarin would be looking for a team in a big market and city. This has made the Rangers the believed destination for the Bread Man. While the Rangers are indeed located in the NHL’s largest city, the Islanders are able to provide him with the same experience. The Coliseum is miles away from Queens and Barclays Center is right in the heart of Brooklyn, so it doesn’t take a genius to realize that he’ll be playing in the biggest city in the western hemisphere. Not to mention that when Belmont is finished with construction, the team will be located right on the border of the largest metropolitan area this side of the pond.
There should be no doubt that Barry Trotz would place Panarin on a line with emerging superstar Mathew Barzal, who would be saucing passes to Panarin left and right. The point generation on that line would be unimaginable. Yes, that does involve splitting up the Beauvillier-Barzal-Bailey line, but the ends justify the means in this situation. Putting Panarin on the left side with Barzal and Bailey while shifting Beauvillier to the third line could create an impactful middle-six in the lineup. With a defense boasting one of the lowest goals against in the league, a stud in Robin Lehner between the pipes, and a future Hall of Fame coach behind the bench, Artemi Panarin definitely has reasons to consider joining the Islanders.
Even though the Blue Jackets can still sign Panarin and there are rumors of possible talks during the All-Star break, the Islanders are in serious contention to sign him if he does become a UFA. While the Blue Jackets are currently ahead of the Islanders in standings, that could easily change soon. What isn’t in doubt, however, is the fact that both sides can benefit from this possible signing.