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Panarin sets deadline in contract talks with Blue Jackets: report

Forward won't sign extension once training camp begins in order to focus on hockey, agent says @NHLdotcom

Artemi Panarin will not negotiate a contract extension with Columbus Blue Jackets once training camp starts, his agent told The Athletic on Thursday.

"Artemi loves hockey," Daniel Milstein said. "He hates the business side of hockey. When the season starts, the focus can only be on playing. He's going to play his best and give his best to the hockey club."

Blue Jackets training camp begins Sept. 13.

Panarin can become an unrestricted free agent following this season after the two-year contract he signed with the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 28, 2016, expires. The 26-year-old forward became eligible to sign an extension with Columbus of up to eight years July 1, but informed the Blue Jackets he did not want to sign a long-term contract.

Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, Panarin and Milstein met Sunday in Nice, France. No progress was made in that meeting, Milstein told The Athletic. Kekalainen did not comment on the meeting or the deadline.

Panarin led the Blue Jackets last season with 82 points (25 goals, 57 assists) in 81 games. He had 34 more points than their next highest-scoring forward, center Pierre-Luc Dubois (48). 

The Blue Jackets could trade Panarin to not lose him without compensation on July 1. The return likely would be higher in a trade with a team that knows it can sign Panarin to a long-term contract.

Kekalainen previously said he expects Panarin to start the season with the Blue Jackets.

"We want to have him for eight years, have made it clear to him that we want him to be a big part of our future, we want build our team around him," Kekalainen said June 22.

The Blue Jackets acquired Panarin in a trade from the Blackhawks on June 23, 2017. He had 151 points (61 goals, 90 assists) in in his first two NHL seasons with Chicago, winning the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year in 2015-16.

Tweet from @TheAthleticNHL: Artemi Panarin gives Blue Jackets a Sept. 13 deadline. @Aportzline on what that means:

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