Despite reports to the contrary on Sunday, it looks like Madison Square Garden will, in fact, be home to one of the biggest free agent signings of the summer. That’s right: Coveted former Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin is off the market, signing with the New York Rangers for a reported seven years, $81.5 million. James Dolan must be feeling great today.
For a Rangers team that had been biding its time the past couple of seasons, this move—along with trade for Jacob Trouba and the drafting of Finnish phenom Kaapo Kakko—immediately makes the rebuilding team fun and quite possibly good already. Panarin was the points leader on the best Blue Jackets team ever last season, notching 28 goals and 59 assists as the team made the second round. But it was no secret that he wanted to play outside of Ohio, and he had other potential suitors in the Florida Panthers and the New York Islanders. Having won the race for Panarin’s services at a reported discount—over their crosstown Brooklyn rivals—Dolan’s Rangers have proven that MSG is still hockey’s Mecca.
Brooklyn can take Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant and Semyon Varlamov—Manhattan doesn’t need them when it’s got Artemi Panarin.