NHL Rumors: Latest Buzz on Artemi Panarin, Anders Lee, More

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistJune 29, 2019

Artemi Panarin could end up with the Florida Panthers when free agency opens.
Artemi Panarin could end up with the Florida Panthers when free agency opens.Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Artemi Panarin will be the top free agent when the NHL market opens up Monday.

Panarin is the top sniper available. He plied his trade for the Columbus Blue Jackets the last two years after two years with the Chicago Blackhawks, and he has scored 116 goals in four years.

Panarin can get close to the goal, fake out defensemen and goaltenders and put the puck in the top of the net. However, his ability to hit a corner from 25-30 feet or longer separates him from many of the game's top scorers. He can strike suddenly and allow his team to string goals together.

He should be able to write his own ticket Monday and receive a contract offer that is at least $10 million per year. One of the team's that has the best chance of signing him is the Florida Panthers.

He has already met with general manager Dale Tallon, and it's clear that the Panthers want to add talent. In addition to talking to Panarin, Tallon is talking to Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, per George Richards of The Athletic.

It is not a package deal, but the two could end up on the same team. In addition to the persuasive Tallon, the Panthers hired Joel Quenneville to be their coach. Quenneville led the Chicago Blackhawks to three Stanley Cup titles in 2010, 2013 and 2015, and he coached Panarin in his first two years in the league.

"Let's put it this way, we have spread a lot of fertilizer out there," Tallon said about hisΒ free agency philosophy, per Richards. "And I'm pretty good at that. So we're hoping that a little water, a little rain and it will come to bloom. But yeah, we are confident we're going to make our team better. We're trying to hit some home runs here."

Lee listening to new suitors

The New York Islanders lost John Tavares to the Toronto Maple Leafs in free agency a year ago.

One year later, it could be Anders Lee who leaves the fold.

The talented winger does not have the same impact on the team that Taveras had, but he is a legitimate goal scorer and one of the team's best players.

Lee has said he wants to go back to the Islanders, and he has been in communication with team boss Lou Lamoriello. However, he does not have a deal at this point, and the clock is ticking.

Lee has already been linked with the Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche and the Blackhawks, per Frank Seravalli of TSN.

Lee has come into his own as a scorer the last three seasons with 34, 40 and 28 goals. That kind of production is rare in the NHL, and if the Islanders thought they could sign him for a bargain price, they are likely to find out that is clearly not the case when Lee is allowed to sign a new contract.