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Artemi Panarin would listen to offer from Blackhawks, per report

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The winger is open to returning to Chicago.

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Colorado Avalanche v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Artemi Panarin is open to the idea of playing for the Blackhawks again, reports Scott Powers of The Athletic.

Panarin is in the second year of his two-year deal worth $12 million with the Blue Jackets after being sent to Columbus in a blockbuster trade with the Blackhawks in June 2017. He scored at least 30 goals and 74 points on the second line with Patrick Kane in two seasons with Chicago. The Blackhawks signed Panarin — an undrafted free agent — to a two-year entry-level contract in April 2015 after winning the Gagarin Cup with SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL.

The Russian star winger is the Blue Jackets’ leading scorer this season with 26 points (six goals, 20 assists) in 23 games. Last season, he led Columbus in goals (27), assists (55) and points (82) and had a team-high seven points in one six-game playoff series.

After his two seasons with the Blue Jackets, Panarin is expected to command more than his current $6 million per year. Dan Milstein, Panarin’s agent and chief executive officer of the Gold Star Hockey agency, told The Columbus Dispatch on Monday that the two will discuss business in late January. The Blue Jackets have their “bye” week Jan. 20-24, but it really runs until Jan. 29. The NHL’s All-Star break is Jan. 25-26 and Columbus will have two more days off before they open the second half of their schedule, Jan. 29 against the Sabres.

The nine-day window is more than enough time for Milstein and Panarin to discuss what their plan is heading into contract talks with the Blue Jackets or other teams.

The Blackhawks currently will enter the offseason with 16 players (nine forwards, six defenseman and goaltender Corey Crawford) carrying a $62.2 million salary cap hit, according to CapFriendly, which would give them $17.2 million to play with under the current cap ceiling.

This figure will change depending on what the NHL sets the cap ceiling at next season, potential trades and how much Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman spends when re-signing players set to hit free agency. As Powers notes, Chicago has 16 players set to hit the open market this summer:

Unrestricted free agents

Brandon Davidson, D

Marcus Kruger, F

Chris Kunitz, F

Jan Rutta, D

Andreas Martinsen, F

Cam Ward, G

Restricted free agents

Carl Dahlstrom, D

Collin Delia, G

Victor Ejdsell, F

Anton Forsberg, G

Gustav Forsling, D

Luke Johnson, F

David Kampf, F

Anthony Louis, F

Brendan Perlini, F

Dylan Sikura, F

If the Blackhawks were to sign Panarin to a deal north of $6 million per year, he’d be the fourth player on the roster to carry such a cap hit. Forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews both are at $10.5 million, while defenseman Brent Seabrook is at $6.75 million. Crawford and forward Brandon Saad are both at $6 million.