Artemi Panarin is the hottest forward on the free agent market. The 27-year-old is such a vibrant scorer that the Blue Jackets forewent the sizable trade bounty he would have pulled in at the deadline, even knowing he was on his way out this summer, because he was so key to their playoff hopes. Multiple teams—the Panthers, Rangers, and Islanders are the favorites—are going to offer him seven years at around $11 million a year to score lots of points for them.
Panarin met with the Panthers—who are also in on Panarin’s Columbus teammate, goalie Sergei Bobrovsky—earlier this week. And on Wednesday he was in New York, meeting with Rangers brass at MSG. There, they tried to impress him by putting on the jumbotron a photoshop of Panarin in a Rangers uniform.
The Rangers should hope Panarin didn’t pay too much attention to the image, because they clearly just plopped his head onto the body of a lefty shot. Panarin is right-handed.
Still I strongly suspect this won’t matter nearly as much as how close to a $12M AAV the Rangers are willing to offer, and that the only attention to detail Panarin’s really concerned about is the front office not forgetting to list Columbus on his no-trade clause.