Leading up to the July 1st free agency period, the Rangers had been one of a handful of teams expected to make a bid for the services of left winger Artemi Panarin. Along with the Panthers and Islanders, the Rangers had shown a lot of interest in the 27 year old Russian, hoping to accelerate a rebuild that is now entering it’s second full season.
The noted playmaker will receive an average annual salary of $11.642 million per year, easily eclipsing the $8.5 that Henrik Lundqvist currently makes as the Rangers highest salary commitment. What’s more, Panarin will now be contracted through to the end of the 2025-26 season, at which point he’ll be 35 years old.
Undrafted as an 18 and 19 year old, Panarin joined the Chicago Blackhawks for the 2015-16 season where he put up 30 goals and 77 points as a 24 year old. He had similar numbers the following year – 31 goals and 74 points – before being traded to the Blue Jackets where he put up 82 and 87 points respectively over the past two seasons.
At 5-11 and 168 pounds, Panarin generates most of his offense off the rush or on the perimeter, though perhaps will be able to compliment the likes of Vitali Kravtsov and Kaapo Kakko, who both have more size and are unafraid to go to the net.
What the signing means for Chris Kreider‘s future with the Rangers, remains to be seen, but it seems unlikely that the Rangers will be able to resign him next season if they wish to keep him around for an extended term.