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  • Writer's pictureRyan Lake

Why Duchene, Panarin And 12 Other Free Agents On The Columbus Blue Jackets Need To Make The Playoffs

The biggest names on the list of free agents include Sergei Bobrovsky, Matt Duchene, Artemi Panarin and Zachary Werenski. Out of these top players, all but one, Werenski, will be unrestricted free agents on July 1, 2019. As unrestricted free agents, these players are allowed to sign with any club. This gives them a lot of leverage in negotiating a new contract.

A full list of the free agent players currently on the Blue Jackets is below.

NamePositionStatusSergei BobrovskyGoalieUFAKeith KinkaidGoalieUFAAdam McQuaidDefensemenUFARyan DzingelForwardUFAMatt DucheneForwardUFAArtemi PanarinForwardUFAElvis MerzļikinsGoalieRFA (Arbitration Eligible)Joonas KorpisaloGoalieRFA (Arbitration Eligible)Ryan MurrayDefensemenRFA (Arbitration Eligible)Scott HarringtonDefensemenRFA (Arbitration Eligible)Markus HännikäinenForwardRFA (Arbitration Eligible)Lukas SedlakForwardRFA (Arbitration Eligible)Zachary WerenskiDefensemenRFAEric RobinsonForwardRFA

(UFA = Unrestricted Free Agent, RFA = Restricted Free Agent)

Restricted Free Agency occurs when a player’s contract expires but the club still owns the rights to the player. Additionally, players that have played in the league for enough time will become eligible for salary arbitration. For more on Free Agency and the different statuses of players check out How free agency works in the National Hockey League (NHL).

Along with regular season stats, clubs will pay more to players who have a track record of winning in the playoffs. Thus, the Blue Jackets push for the playoffs could dramatically impact the value of these players.

The top players Duchene and Panarin will still get top dollar; however, a lack of playoff experience and more importantly a lack of playoff success could drive their value down.

In three playoff campaigns, Panarin has posted an impressive 15 points in 17 games however his team never advanced out of the first round. Additionally, during those games he was a plus/minus  -6. Similarly, Duchene has posted 6 points in 8 games and carries a plus/minus  -3.

These numbers are in drastic contrast to the talent of the players and the stats they have put up in the regular season.

Duchene averages 0.75 points per game over his ten-year career. This season he has posted great numbers with 30 goals and 67 points in 68 games. Duchene is in his last year of a five year $30 million contract with an average annual value of $6 million.

Looking at his stats and the recent contracts signed by comparable players would place Duchene in the $8-9 million per season range. The one stat that could drive his value down is the lack of experience and success in the playoffs. He is yet to score a postseason goal.

Panarin is in his last year of a two-year contract worth $12 million with an annual average value of $6 million. Panarin has put up awe-inspiring numbers in his four seasons in the NHL with 115 goals and 312 points in 317 games. This translates into a point per game average of 0.98 over his career. This season Panarin is in the top 25 players in the league in points per game average with 1.07.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row equal_height=”yes” content_placement=”middle”][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]It has been reported, that Panarin is seeking a deal work $10-11 million per season. A contract at this level would make Panarin one of the top-paid players in the league. The chart below shows the top-paid players by annual average value (AAV).

PlayerYearsTotalAAVConnor McDavid (2018-2025)8$100,000,000$12,500,000Auston Matthews (2019-2023)5$58,170,000$11,634,000Leon Draisaitl (2017-2024)6$68,000,000$11,333,333Drew Doughty (2019-2026)8$88,000,000$11,000,000John Tavares (2018-2024)7$77,000,000$11,000,000Patrick Kane (2015-2022)8$84,000,000$10,500,000Jonathan Toews (2015-2022)8$84,000,000$10,500,000Carey Price (2018-2025)8$84,000,000$10,500,000Anze Kopitar (2016-2023)8$80,000,000$10,000,000Jack Eichel (2018-2025)8$80,000,000$10,000,000

The only player on this list that signed their contract as an unrestricted free agent is John Tavares. Drew Doughty, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Carey Price, and Anze Kopitar all signed extensions before reaching free agency. Unlike Panarin, Tavares had experienced some playoff success and made it out of the first round in the 2015-16 season.

Duchene and Panarin are clearly top players in the league and deserve to be paid as such, but the only way to guarantee that they receive the value they deserve is to get the Blue Jackets in the playoffs and win. The last five games of the season could ultimately determine how much money each of the fourteen free agent players on the Blue Jackets earn come July 1.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”6313″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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