The Athletic’s Arthur Staple created a stir last week in the NHL rumor mill with a report of a possible rift between New York Rangers general manager Chris Drury and winger Artemi Panarin.
In his June 23 analysis of the Rangers’ offseason, Staple reported Drury was “vocally unhappy” over Panarin’s performance in the playoffs. The 30-year-old had 16 points during the Blueshirts’ 20-game run, but he didn’t display the consistency expected of a regular-season scoring leader.
Staple acknowledged Panarin’s hefty contract would be almost impossible to move. He has four seasons remaining with an $11.6 million annual salary-cap hit and a no-movement clause. Nevertheless, he speculated Panarin could ask out.
Neither Panarin nor Drury have commented, and there’s no indication the winger could be available via the trade market. The two may have discussed Panarin’s playoff performance during his exit interview, and if there is an issue between them, they will probably try to sort it out.
The chance that Panarin will hit the trade block is remote. While every team would love to add a forward with his playmaking abilities, his contract would be difficult for most teams to absorb.
Still, there’s always a possibility, no matter how slim, that a rival club could step in with a tempting offer provided Panarin agrees to be moved.
Here are four clubs that could be landing spots this summer and what it might take to acquire him. Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comment section below.
Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings have been rebuilding with young talent since Steve Yzerman took over as general manager in 2019. They’ve missed the playoffs for the past six seasons, however, and the franchise record is seven, from back in the 1970s. That could prompt Yzerman to speed things up by swinging a deal for a star.
Detroit must bolster its offense after its 2.8 goals per game ranked 25th. Panarin would improve its production and could help end the long playoff drought.
It’s probably a stretch to imagine that the Red Wings GM would stray from his path to acquire an expensive player such as Panarin. And we don’t know if Detroit would even be on Panarin’s list of acceptable destinations.
Still, the Red Wings have two things necessary to pull off a Panarin trade: They are carrying lots of salary-cap space and have promising assets.
Detroit has $35.8 million in cap space with 15 players under contract for 2022-23. That includes core talents in Dylan Larkin, Moritz Seider, Lucas Raymond, Tyler Bertuzzi and Alex Nedeljkovic.
Scott Wheeler of The Athletic ranked the Wings seventh in his analysis of teams’ prospect depth. Defensemen Simon Edvinsson and William Wallinder and goaltender Sebastian Cossa are among Detroit’s top prospects. And 2018 first-round pick Filip Zadina could also be available, as he might benefit from a change of scenery after struggling to establish himself.
The Red Wings would also be in need of a first-line left winger after 2022-23 if Bertuzzi tests the unrestricted free-agent market next year. Yzerman could package the 27-year-old with one or two of his quality prospects. The Rangers could insist on the Red Wings’ first-round pick (No. 8) in this year’s draft since New York traded its pick to the Winnipeg Jets.