Artemi Panarin signs with New York Rangers in NHL free agency

Panarin, this year’s top available player, takes his high-scoring talents in the Big Apple after the last two seasons in Columbus.

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Artemi Panarin

Rick Scuteri/AP Photo

Artemi Panarin signed a seven-year contract with the New York Rangers when NHL free agency opened Monday.

The deal, first reported by TSN, will be worth $81.5 million deal with an $11.642 million cap hit. It comes after aggressive bidding between the Rangers, Islanders and Panthers.

Panarin, who played his first two years with the Blackhawks before being traded to the Blue Jackets, entered free agency as the top player available. He’s lit up the NHL during his first four seasons in the league and remains in his prime entering the upcoming season, during which he’ll turn 28 years old.

There’s a belief that the winger left money on the table in order to sign the Rangers, according to TSN. It comes after reports that the team no longer expected to sign him due to the increased bidding.

Panarin joined the NHL four years ago on an entry-level contract with the Blackhawks. He quickly emerged as one of the top scorers in the league, but made his intention to hit free agency in his prime clear by signing a two-year, $12 million deal for his second contract. The move set him up to hit the open market as soon as possible, and now he’s taken advantage to move to the country’s biggest market.

The Rangers have had an active offseason beyond the addition of a superstar in Panarin. The team also traded for Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba, pried top defensive prospect Adam Fox from Carolina and selected Kaapo Kakko with the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft.

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