Blue Jackets' Artemi Panarin Fires Agent Before NHL Trade Deadline, Wants to 'Test Free Agency'
With the NHL trade deadline looming, Columbus's Artemi Panarin has switched agents, firing Dan Milstein and hiring Paul Theofanous as his new representation, Panarin told reporters Friday. Theofanous also represents Panarin's teammate, Sergei Bobrovsky, who will also become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
During his first-ever interview in English, the Russian-born winger told reporters that he will test free agency this summer.
The Blue Jackets leading scorer has been unwilling to negotiate a contract extension with the Blue Jackets. Panarin's previous agent, Milstein, had recently issued a statement saying that the star forward wouldn't discuss a new contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets until after the season.
Panarin explained to reporters Friday why he has decided not to do so before the league's Feb. 25 trade deadline.
"It's one life, one chance for free agency, and I want to test free agency," Panarin said. "[They] have a chance [to sign me], but we'll see what happens in the summer. I want to still [consider] this season and help the team win the Stanley Cup."
The 27-year old added that he doesn't yet know where he wants to go after Columbus–but fans have already started trying to convince him to stay. A Columbus-based distillery offered Panarin free vodka for life if he extends his contract with the team and stays in Ohio.
“Seriously guys, I don’t have a team," he told reporters. "Not one team where I want to go. But I have many teams. We’ll see what happens in the summer, but right now I don’t know what I want."
Panarin has 20 goals and 40 assists for 60 points through 51 games this season. In his fourth NHL season, and second in Columbus, Panarin was acquired from the Blackhawks in June 2017.
The Blue Jackets (30–20–3) will take on the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.