NHL Rumors: Latest Buzz on Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, More

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJune 28, 2019

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Artemi Panarin, of Russia, carries the puck against the Boston Bruins during an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, April 2, 2019. The Bruins won 6-2. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
Paul Vernon/Associated Press

Some clarity is starting to appear in the hunt for the NHL's top free agents.

The top unrestricted free agents on the market are taking meetings with teams and exploring all of their options, while the restricted free agents are also generating a ton of buzz.

The goal for some of the leading free agents is to have a decision settled on by the time free agency opens Monday.

In other cases, free agents will take their time to evaluate what their best possible landing spot is before coming to a conclusion.


Latest NHL Buzz

Artemi Panarin

According to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, the race to sign Artemi Panarin looks like it is down to the Florida Panthers, New York Islanders and New York Rangers.

Paul Vernon/Associated Press

Friedman noted the Islanders as an intriguing side in the hunt for Panarin because they have not extended impending unrestricted free agents Anders Lee or Robin Lehner.

Securing Panarin's services would be a massive coup for a franchise that lost John Tavares to the Toronto Maple Leafs in free agency a year ago.

Of the three teams reportedly in the hunt for Panarin, the Islanders had the best finish in the Eastern Conference and were the only one to make the postseason.

Adding Panarin to their talented roster would be seen as a statement of intent that the Isles want to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

For Florida and the Rangers, bringing in Panarin would be a significant upgrade to the talent they boasted on their respective rosters a year ago.

From the Panthers' perspective, Panarin might be enough to push them into the playoffs after they finished fourth in the wild-card race last season.

Whichever team lands the 27-year-old is getting one of the league's best point producers in his prime.

During the 2018-19 season, Panarin set a career high in points and assists, and in each of his four seasons in the NHL, he has scored at least 27 goals.


Matt Duchene

According to TSN's Darren Dreger, Matt Duchene visited the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday. 

The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun reported Duchene also visited the Nashville Predators on Thursday, as he explores all of the possible options in free agency.

Paul Vernon/Associated Press

The 28-year-old center, who played for the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets last season, tied his career high in 2018-19 with 70 points by scoring 31 goals and handing out 39 assists.

Duchene will be looking for some stability after he was traded in each of the past two seasons by the Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa.

Joining up with Nashville would present Duchene with the opportunity to form a potent line alongside Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg for the long term.

The Predators make sense as a destination, as they are trying to bolster their roster with eyes on the Stanley Cup, a prize they have fallen just short of winning in the past few seasons.

Montreal was on the fringe of the Eastern Conference playoff spots last season, and adding Duchene would significantly boost its chances of getting back into the postseason.

Nashville has a bit more cap space to work with compared to Montreal, with more than $13 million in cap space. The Canadiens have a little under $9 million, per Spotrac.


Pat Maroon

After winning the Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues, Pat Maroon appears to have plenty of options if he hits the open market.

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Fox Sports Midwest's Andy Strickland reported Maroon is generating decent interest because of his physicality, which could help teams in the postseason.

TSN Edmonton's Ryan Rishaug reported that the Calgary Flames are among several teams interested in the services of Maroon.

Maroon has plenty of reasons to stay with the Blues since he is a St. Louis native and would try to help them become the second team to repeat as champions in the past five years.

If he leaves St. Louis, Calgary would be an interesting spot for Maroon since he would joining up with another team that has established itself near the top of the Western Conference.

Any team interested in Maroon would not be making a significant investment since he made $1.75 million last season, per Spotrac.

If a contender, like Calgary, wants to add some muscle and can lure Maroon away from his hometown, it could be worth it when the postseason rolls around.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90Statistics obtained from Hockey Reference.