The Vancouver Canucks surprised the hockey world this season with the emergence of some of their young superstars. With a high first-round draft pick likely coming their way at this year’s draft in Vancouver, some people think it’s time to take a dip at a big name free agent — among those is Artemi Panarin.
Allow me to begin this article (that I’m certain will enrage a few of you) by clarifying that I’m not saying the Vancouver Canucks must sign Artemi Panarin in order to be competitive next season. I’m simply writing this because I’ve seen many people discussing the upcoming free agent class on Twitter, and many suggest that Panarin is someone the Canucks should target.
From what I’ve seen, the majority of fans think it’s time that general manager Jim Benning takes a big swing at free agency this Summer — but the debate comes on which free agent the Canucks should pursue. I wrote an article about the case for signing Erik Karlsson about a month ago, where I laid out the reasons why I think the Canucks might be interested in Karlsson and why Karlsson might be interested in coming to play in Vancouver.
On a side note, I thought it be important for me to mention something I should have mentioned in that article, and that is that the report claiming Karlsson doesn’t want to play in a Canadian market was denied by Karlsson just a day after the report was originally made. I only mention this because a lot of folks seem to still believe this to be true despite multiple reports of Karlsson denying it.
Personally, I am not completely sold on the idea of going after a big name this summer, whether that be Karlsson or Panarin. I’m hesitant to include Jake Gardiner or Tyler Myers in the list of “big name” free agents available this summer, even though the Canucks may very well take a stab at one of these two defencemen.
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That being said, I do understand why some people are interested in the Canucks going all in on a free agent such as Panarin. So here’s the case for why the Canucks might be interested in signing him.
Something I wish I had spent more time discussing in my case for Karlsson article is why the player himself would like to come to Vancouver — not just why fans and the organization would like the player to come to Vancouver. So let’s get thinking of why Panarin might be interested in heading North of the border.
To do this, I put out the question on Twitter, “Why would Artemi Panarin want to sign in Vancouver?” The responses were priceless.
It’s no secret that playing with the extremely talented Elias Pettersson is going to be the main selling point for Benning to use when pitching his case to Panarin. Throw Brock Boeser‘s name in that too, and you’ve got an extremely dangerous first line that I’m sure Panarin wouldn’t mind at all being a part of for years to come.
Now here’s where it gets interesting. TSN’s Bob McKenzie said in one of his episodes of “The Bobcast” that he believes Panarin does not want to sign with a Canadian city — except for Vancouver and Toronto. Toronto obviously does not have the money to sign Panarin, Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas will instead need to put the majority of his attention on getting Mitch Marner signed this Summer.
Here’s where the funnier reasons Panarin might want to sign in Vancouver come in. One response to the tweet was, “MOM obviously: mountains, oceans, money.” The part about the money obviously makes sense, but the part about the oceans is also technically true.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said on his 31 thoughts podcast that Panarin wants to sign somewhere that is “close to a body of water.” When he says that, I doubt he means the Red River in Winnipeg. I hope Panarin likes mountains too because Vancouver is one of the only cities in the NHL that can boast both oceans and mountains as part of its landscape.
So there’s the appeal from the beauty of the city and the intrigue to play with young upcoming superstars in Pettersson and Boeser that will surely make Panarin at least listen if Vancouver chooses to offer him a contract. To finish it off, this tweet from one of the responders to my tweet is quite the scenario to think about.
The Canucks are trending upward, and with such a young core and more prospects on the way, why wouldn’t Panarin want to call Vancouver his home for the next handful of years of his life?
It will be interesting to see what the Canucks decide to do in free agency this Summer, but I’m not completely sold on the idea of dishing out big money to a free agent just yet. What do you all think? Should the Canucks attempt to sign a big name free agent this year? If so, who?