Artemi Panarin chose the New York Rangers over the New York Islanders during free agency. With the Rangers tanking and the Islanders soaring, he clearly made the wrong choice.
The New York Islanders big play in free agency was to offer free agent Artemi Panarin a mega deal to entice him to play on the Island. Lou Lamoriello offered the former Chicago Blackhawk and Columbus Blue Jackets forward a seven-year deal with a reported $12.5 million AAV.
A deal that would have made him tied with Connor McDavid as the highest-paid player in the NHL. But Panarin chose to play for the Islanders rivals, the New York Rangers instead.
Panarin took less money to play for the rebuilding Rangers. Meanwhile, the Islanders have won seven in a row.
Not Working So Far
To be fair to Artemi Panarin, the Rangers had an impressive offseason when it came to acquiring talent.
The Rangers were able to acquire Jacob Trouba via trade from the Winnipeg Jets for Neal Pionk and a first-round draft pick that initially belonged to Winnipeg. Then they were able to select Kaapo Kakko second overall in the 2019 draft.
Along with Panarin, that's a good return. One that looked promising to someone like Panarin I'm sure. Except things haven't gone so well for the Rangers.
Sure, Panarin has nine points in nine games and looks every bit as advertised after making the move from Columbus. But second overall pick Kaapo Kakko has only managed to put up two points in nine games and is now playing on the Rangers third line next to Brett Howden and Brendan Lemieux.
And while Jacob Trouba is putting up points, the defenseman isn't doing much defensively. His expected goals for percent is 38.92, ranked 214 out of 233 defensemen. His scoring chances for percent is 35.38, ranking him 225 out of 233 defensemen. He might be putting up points, but he isn't doing much in terms of preventing them.
(Stats from NaturalStatTrick.com)
All of that to say that the big acquisitions the Rangers made this offseason aren't working out, Except for Panarin. Leaving the Rangers all but surely out of the playoff picture this season.
Sure, the season is young, but the Rangers are already seven points out of a wildcard spot and they'd have to leapfrog five teams to get there. With the way the Rangers are playing, they'll have to totally turn things around, and quick.
Meanwhile, the New York Islanders are dominating the NHL at the moment with a seven-game winning streak. A streak that has them three points out of the division lead and ranked sixth in the NHL.
While the Rangers look like they are a year away from anything. The Islanders are a good hockey team now. Today. The Islanders don't need to tank in order to acquire top talent like the Rangers in order to become contenders.
There's something to be said about Artemi Panarin just wanting to be a Ranger. Maybe growing up in Korkino, Russia he had New York Rangers bed sheets we don't know about. Maybe he just likes the glitz and glamour of playing in Manhattan. And that's fair.
But when you look at the money he left on the table, and the state of both teams since he made his decision, and assuming going to the Islanders was a real possibility, it looks like he made the wrong choice.