Dan Milstein, Panarin’s agent and chief executive officer of the Gold Star Hockey agency, said money isn’t the main issue for Panarin.
“My clients have never had the issue that they’re trying to squeeze for every penny. ... I don’t think it’s going to be all about the money,” Milstein said.
Dietz’s report comes only three days after Scott Powers of The Athletic reported Panarin would listen to an offer from Chicago.
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 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 he won the Gagarin Cup with SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL.
Panarin is the Blue Jackets’ leading scorer this season with 27 points (seven goals, 20 assists) in 24 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 against the eventual Stanley Cup champion Capitals.
After his two seasons with the Blue Jackets, Panarin is expected to command more than his current $6 million per year. Milstein 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.