Artemi Panarin agreed to a seven-year, $81.5 million contract with the New York Rangers on Monday. It has an average annual value of $11.6 million.
“We had a great visit with him when he came in,” Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton said. “Right away you could sense his enthusiasm for the Rangers, for the big city, for the big stage. His knowledge of the game, his knowledge of our team, it all shined right through. Right away for everybody in the room, it was pretty exciting to hear some of the things he had to say.”
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The 27-year-old forward led the Columbus Blue Jackets with 87 points (28 goals, 59 assists) in 79 regular-season games last season and had 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 10 Stanley Cup Playoff games to help them sweep the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round to win a playoff series for the first time.
“There were very few players we looked at that would be part of what we wanted to do and accomplish,” Gorton said. “This is a guy we set out to acquire and thankfully it all worked out.”
Panarin was eligible to sign a contract extension with the Blue Jackets since July 1, 2018 but did not have contract discussions during the season after the sides failed to reach an agreement prior to training camp in September.
“There’s something special about Panarin and the way he plays the game, the way he looks at the game and the way he thinks about the game,” Rangers president John Davidson said. “In watching him play in big spots, he just seems to love it. He just loves playing. I think the idea that he’s going to be able to now, knowing he has a seven-year contract in place, be able to move to New York, be able to enjoy what New York has to offer, which a lot of terrific stuff, excellent stuff, and play in an atmosphere that is electric. He has mentioned about Madison Square Garden to me before and what it’s like. He was interested in the big city, in Madison Square Garden and the history of the Garden. I just sense this is something he wants to achieve and be a part of.
“He stuck to what he wanted to do and right now he’s a New York Ranger and we couldn’t be happier.”
Undrafted, Panarin signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks on April 29, 2015 and won the Calder Trophy voted as the NHL rookie of the year that season, when he had 77 points (30 goals, 47 assists) in 80 games.
He has 320 points (116 goals, 204 assists) in 322 NHL games and 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) in 27 playoff games.
“The idea of a build is to get picks, and Jeff really did a good job, he and his staff, of gathering picks,” Davidson said. “Then you go through the draft and then you go through the development. As you do this you try to do your best to find ways to try to make it all happen even quicker and better. With these types of things, it’s all falling into place. I’m ecstatic about getting Panarin here to join this group and I think he falls right into our plan.”