NHL Trade Rumors: Latest on Erik Karlsson, Artemi Panarin and Canucks

Franklin Steele@FranklinSteeleAnalyst IIJuly 25, 2018

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Artemi Panarin, left, of Russia, passes the puck against Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, of Sweden, during an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. The Blue Jackets won 5-2. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
Paul Vernon/Associated Press

Not long ago, it seemed like the NHL was on the brink of several major shifts in power. With the draft taking place June 22 and 23 and several stars reportedly on the trading block, fans of all 31 teams were anticipating a weekend of fireworks.

That isn't how things materialized. While we got a big swap between the Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes, the likes of Artemi Panarin, Max Pacioretty and Erik Karlsson all stayed in place.

We're now well into the dog days of summer, with the back end of July and early August representing some of the slowest times of the year in the NHL's rumor mill. Despite that, there are always rumblings that could lead to big moves before training camps open in mid-September.


Panarin Gives Columbus Blue Jackets a Deadline

This recent development is a perfect example of mid-July news that can materialize into a trade. Things were looking up for the Blue Jackets in June, and there was reason to believe they would take a step forward after a 97-point campaign in 2017-18.

Pierre-Luc Dubois was coming along nicely as a No. 1 center, Seth Jones and Zach Werenski had evolved into young defensive studs, Sergei Bobrovsky continues to be one of the league's top netminders, and Columbus seemed set to make a lucrative extension offer to Panarin come July.

Well, life comes at you fast. 

Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

While the majority of those positives still remain true, getting a new contract for Panarin seems increasingly unlikely. Earlier in July, general manager Jarmo Kekalainen met with the star forward in France and came away with some newsonly it wasn't the kind of news he was hoping for.

According to Aaron Portzline of The Athletic, Panarin informed Kekalainen that "he wants all business matters pushed aside as of Sept. 13, the day training camp opens in Columbus and across the NHL."

The Blue Jackets were likely hoping they would have the rest of the season—or at least up through the trade deadline—to convince Panarin to stay in Ohio. This nukes that notion and forces Kekalainen's hand.

Columbus will get a much better return for the 26-year-old if its trade partner knows it can get an extension done. Now those conversations won't be able to take place Sept. 14.

That noise you hear is the clock ticking on the Blue Jackets as they try to figure out how to best handle what could become a circus once training camp opens.


Would Karlsson Remain in Ottawa Under New Ownership?

Unlike Blue Jackets fans, who had a dose of misery sprung on them, supporters of the Ottawa Senators knew this was going to be a painful summer.

As Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun wrote in February, owner Eugene Melnyk "has made it clear, in both his words and recent actions, that he can no longer afford an NHL franchise."

This has led to a teardown of a roster that could have been close to contending for a playoff spot with just a few small adjustments.

Instead, Mike Hoffman is now a member of the Florida Panthers, and during the season, Ottawa traded away Dion Phaneuf and Derick Brassard in salary-cap moves. The Senators aren't rebuilding, but Karlsson could be headed out of town next.

Losing one of the top offensive blueliners in his prime is painful enough—especially given the exodus of talent that will have preceded the Karlsson trade. That's assuming it happens and he doesn't leave next summer as a free agent.

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Where will Erik Karlsson end up? @FriedgeHNIC has the latest rumors. #NHLTonight https://t.co/lyufXIGobJ

But according to NHL insider Elliotte Friedman, there's a feeling around the NHL that the all-world talent would prefer to remain a Senator under different ownership.


Vancouver Canucks Itching to Make Some Deals

The Canucks—who have virtually zero chance of making the playoffs this year—have seven NHL defensemen on the roster and would probably like to make room for Quinn Hughes or Troy Stecher for the upcoming season.

Given the lack of talent available on the free-agent market, one would assume a contender would be interested in one of these blueliners as the regular season approaches, but that hasn't been the case.

Recently, Jason Botchford of the Province wrote that "there just hasn't been a ballooning market for Vancouver's veterans, which includes a group of seven NHL defencemen."

Perhaps the Canucks will be stuck on the sidelines until injuries strike during the campaign, at which point a veteran depth defenseman would be a more attractive option than he is in mid-July.