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Should the Rangers pursue Panarin?

The New York Rangers have kind of fallen off the map over the past month or so.  Before their victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night, they’d been 3-7 in their last ten games.  They’re 23rd in goals for and 26th in goals against, both extremely low for a team that was once a defensive stalwart.

The Rangers are pretty much rebuilding, but they do have some good offensive talent.  Chris Kreider is having a career year, Kevin Hayes is going to have a huge payday after a big season, and young Czech forward Filip Chytil is showing scoring prowess well beyond his years.  However, it feels like the Rangers are missing something.

It’s not just the fact that their team isn’t very deep or they don’t have a number one defenseman.  They’re missing that dynamic player that they used to have in Rick Nash (albeit for only a small time frame).  They’re missing that sniper that hasn’t been there for what feels like decades.  They’re missing an Artemi Panarin type player.

Speaking of Panarin, didn’t he say he wanted to move to the NYC metro area and play for one of their teams?  Didn’t he say he would love to play for the Rangers?  Is this really a match made in Heaven?  Is this deal too good to be true?

Well it’s a bit more complicated than that.  While Artemi Panarin, one of the best young forwards in the game did say he would play for any of the three Metro area teams, he never specified which one, nor did he say he would join a rebuilding Rangers squad.

Should the Rangers try?  It can’t hurt but who knows if Panarin will come.  He is a free agent at the end of the season, but it looks like he may work something out with the Blue Jackets.  If he does, then the Rangers are out of luck.  If not, they have a couple of options.

They can try and trade for him, putting pressure on themselves to have him stay for an extension.  If they don’t get him to stay, they wasted most likely a high draft pick and they got nothing out of what’s already a lost season.  It’s the more aggressive approach, but it could work out in their favor.

As for the other option?  Well they can wait to see how the rest of this saga plays out during the season.  If they let it ride and he signs an extension with Columbus, then there was no chance he would be traded to begin with.  If not, then the Rangers have to court Panarin and hope that he winds up with them.  There are a lot more fish in the sea in free agency, and there’s much less of a chance for him to get a real life view on what it’s like to play in New York City.

Whatever the Rangers decide, they need to pursue Panarin regardless.  He is a wonderful talent with a lot of skill that could greatly help out the Rangers.  Being so young, he’ll be in his prime by the time the Rangers are ready to compete again, and if they can lock him up for the next six years it would an ideal situation.

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