From goal line to goal line, the Boston Bruins have been inconsistent through the first month of the 2018-19 NHL season. Trade rumors encircled the team all summer long and they have once again risen to the surface. Many believe Columbus Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin is a suitable solution for Boston’s woes thus far. While the Bruins have been able to ride their first line to begin the campaign, they will need their bottom-nine lines to kick into gear if they want consistent success.
That’s where Panarin comes in. With Jake DeBrusk struggling and David Krejci looking for some extra help on Boston’s second line, Panarin seems to be a good fit. Coupling that with the fact that Panarin has yet to sign an extension with the Blue Jackets, it seems as though he will be on the move if the two parties don’t come to an agreement by the trade deadline.
It’s somewhat of a touchy subject in Boston at the moment; so many opinions are being tossed around like party streamers that it can all be hard to digest. Amidst the chaos, THW Bruins writers Brandon Share-Cohen, Alex Thomas, and Drew Johnson have gathered together to hash out the potential trade.
BSC: The Cost of Acquiring Panarin
If the Bruins are going to address their need at forward through the trade market, there’s probably no better option than Panarin. A 27-year-old point-per-game player who has proven he can score and create offense from anywhere, Panarin is the real deal and can fill a need on either wing.
In his first three seasons, Panarin has scored 88 goals and 233 points in 243 games. He’s proven to be just as legitimate in Columbus as he was in Chicago and he already has five goals and 15 points in 14 games this season.
The prospect of acquiring him is an interesting one and actually something I proposed back in June. The issue then is the same as it is now, however – the cost of acquiring Panarin will likely be too much for the Bruins to handle. If Kevin Paul Dupont’s reported mention of Charlie McAvoy and Jake DeBrusk both being involved in this deal is true, then I’m out without batting an eye. In my mind, McAvoy is untradeable. You simply can’t trade away a 20-year-old, top-pairing, right-shot defender for a winger.
I’ve been proposing the Bruins using Anders Bjork on the team’s top-line along with Pastrnak slotting in with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk for a while. If the team tries that and finds that it still doesn’t help, then a trade should be explored. With that in mind, the cost of acquiring Panarin is too high (justifiably high as it may be) and unless it can come down significantly with the promise of a fair extension, then I think the Bruins should pass. It isn’t a perfect world, either, so the chances of the cost coming down both in terms of acquiring him and in signing him long-term are slim to none.
Alex Thomas: Panarin is an Elite Talent
The thing for me is that elite talent does not come available often. Artemi Panarin – for the few faults he may have and the pending UFA status he owns – is an elite talent. Depth is nice but look at Washington, Pittsburgh and before them Chicago. All of those teams won Stanley Cups with multiple elite players.
The Bruins have the best line in hockey, but can you imagine them with another top line winger driving the second trio? Don Sweeney has to explore this option, mainly because it might be the only way to ever pass Toronto and Tampa Bay.
The big reason people wouldn’t want to go after Panarin? The trade cost. Here’s the thing, though, the cost shouldn’t matter. Look at the Penguins. They have elite forwards in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to go with an excellent Phil Kessel. Boston would have elite players in Patrice Bergeron and Panarin to go with an excellent duo of David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand.
Even if the cost involved DeBrusk and Boston’s upcoming first-round pick, which will certainly be the case, you do the deal. Boston’s system is well stocked and there is enough young talent to make up for the losses. The window to compete won’t stay open forever, and Boston’s core group is sneakily pretty old.
Johnson: Parting With DeBrusk
Panarin is a great player and would be a fantastic Bruin, but how does it get done? Sweeney would likely have to part with an asset like McAvoy or DeBrusk in order to complete a deal – and that’s only the start. As Brandon mentioned earlier in this debate, McAvoy should be considered untouchable. If you move on from McAvoy, you may have figured out the issue on offense, but you have created a whole other demon at the blue line.
Parting with DeBrusk is tough to digest also, but it could be worth it. He performed well during his rookie season and his first dose of postseason action. Though he has seen a slow start to the 2018-19 campaign, DeBrusk could catch fire once again this year. He also has great potential – so much so that DeBrusk could be a solid second-line winger in the NHL for years to come, though saying he will be as good as Panarin would be setting the bar a bit high at this juncture.
I’m not opposed to moving DeBrusk, but its still a little dodgy considering we don’t know the height of his ceiling quite yet. It’s a bit of a gamble: on one hand, given his rookie year and early sophomore struggles, DeBrusk could be at the peak of his trade value. On the other hand, if he goes on to have a stellar sophomore season, the Bruins may be selling too early. Either way, Sweeney will have to give up more than just DeBrusk for Panarin – likely a first-round pick and even some prospects to seel the deal.
Trading for Panarin is definitely a win-now move, especially if the deal is to involve DeBrusk – you’d basically be advancing from a 22-year-old, NHL-ready prospect to a 27-year-old in his prime. Coughing up DeBrusk and other assets for Panarin is something I can live with as long as a contract extension is in place. Sweeney can’t run into a situation where he’s giving up a future second-or-first-line forward for a rental. If an extension is a guarantee, it’s harder to holster the gun than pull the trigger.
Thoughts on a Panarin Trade?
Brandon, Alex, and Drew certainly have a lot to say on the topic of Panarin, but we want to hear from you. What do you think is a fair offer for Panarin? Is an extension a concern, especially when it comes to Boston’s salary cap situation? What would the Bruins lineup look like if Panarin is to join the team?
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I cover the Boston Bruins and NCAA Hockey here at The Hockey Writers. Born and raised 10 miles north of Boston, I developed a love for the game of ice hockey at a very young age. There’s really nothing better than this sport, though steak is a close second.