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Over The Boards

Mailbag: Possible Panarin destinations, Oilers playoff chances

NHL.com's Dan Rosen answers weekly questions

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

Here is the July 25 edition of Dan Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run on Wednesdays periodically throughout the offseason. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.

 

Does Artemi Panarin play the season out in Columbus or is he dealt? Which teams are a fit for a trade if he is dealt? -- @k_corpstein

I think he should be traded before the season. I don't know if that is what the Columbus Blue Jackets will do, but it's the only good solution because Panarin, who had 82 points (27 goals, 55 assists) in 81 games last season, couldn't be making it any clearer that he envisions settling into a long-term contract with another team. It doesn't seem like he has any animosity toward the Blue Jackets, but Panarin has told them he is not willing to negotiate a new contract and would become an unrestricted free agent after this season. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen must gather a list of teams that interest Panarin, ones that are willing to sign him to a contract extension, and the Blue Jackets then would trade him for the best possible return. It's as if they'd be operating under the pretenses that Panarin has a limited no-trade clause even though he does not. Columbus wouldn't be dealing from a position of strength because every team in the NHL knows what is happening. That's why it's possible, if not likely, that the Blue Jackets won't be able to recoup Panarin's full value in a trade. It stinks, but it's the reality of a difficult situation the Blue Jackets didn't create but must live with.

Video: WSH@CBJ, Gm3: Panarin finishes off give-and-go

I think it's a bad idea to keep Panarin beyond training camp because trading him during the season would be hard with Columbus expected to contend for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Imagine trading Panarin while in a playoff race, especially if Panarin is leading the charge. It would be a terrible sign to send to the rest of the team and the fanbase, which is starving for playoff success. We can't rule out the possibility that Panarin stays, has a change of heart and decides to negotiate with Columbus during the season. But hoping for that is too big of a gamble.

A plethora of teams would likely get into a bidding war for Panarin. I'm looking at the New York Rangers (loaded with prospects and some NHL-level talent), Boston Bruins (good young players who could interest Columbus, including forwards Jake DeBrusk and Ryan Donato), Florida Panthers (quality prospects, including forwards Henrik Borgstrom and Owen Tippett), Vegas Golden Knights (provided they don't trade for Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (with the caveat that they'd include Phil Kessel in the trade). The list surely could be increased, but it depends on Panarin and what interests him, because those are the teams Columbus will most likely be working with.

 

Will the Edmonton Oilers rebound in some way, shape or form with the additions of the new assistant coaches, depth at forward and a new backup goalie? What else do they need to do to add to their team to make the playoffs? -- @NHLNews007

If I had to do predictions today, I wouldn't pick the Oilers to make the playoffs, not in the Pacific Division, where at least the Golden Knights, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks have to be considered better than Edmonton. The Calgary Flames might be too, and the Arizona Coyotes are on the rise. There is too much uncertainty in Edmonton outside of captain Connor McDavid. He can only do so much. He needs help. He doesn't have enough.

The Oilers' chances can't be considered very good if they're banking on the following: resurgent seasons from goalie Cam Talbot (31-31-3, 3.02 goals-against average, .908 save percentage last season) and left wing Milan Lucic (34 points in 82 games last season); growth from 20-year-old right wing Jesse Puljujarvi (20 points in 65 games last season); the possibility that 19-year-old forward Kailor Yamamoto can be a dynamic player; and the hope the power play can improve (it was last in the NHL at 14.8 percent) with new assistants Glen Gulutzan and Manny Viveiros working on it (new assistant Trent Yawney will handle the penalty kill). That's what I mean by uncertainty.

Video: Johnson expects a pair of Oilers to break out

I have no qualms with the additions the Oilers made. Kyle Brodziak can be a solid fourth-line center who can win face-offs and kill penalties. Tobias Rieder can be a productive middle-six left wing. I have no idea what to expect from Mikko Koskinen as a backup goalie. The Oilers need a true No. 1 defenseman who can run the power play and play 25 minutes per game. Short of trading for Karlsson (don't see it happening), they're not going to get that player this season. They need another top-six wing who has the potential to score at least 30 goals. That could be Puljujarvi or Yamamoto eventually, but not now. They need Talbot to be much better than he was last season.

 

It seems that James van Riemsdyk is being slotted on the second line this season by most "pundits." If lines juggle, like most teams do, either from injury or slumps, how many more goals could JVR score above his career-high 36 last season playing with Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek instead of Tyler Bozak? -- @1965CJW

Van Riemsdyk is slotted as a second-line left wing for the Philadelphia Flyers because Giroux is the first-line left wing. Lines do juggle, but last season Giroux played most of his minutes at 5-on-5 with Couturier. The Flyers will do everything they can to make sure that pair doesn't juggle, meaning van Riemsdyk will likely see a lot of 5-on-5 ice time with second-year center Nolan Patrick. Van Riemsdyk should be on the first power-play unit with Couturier, Giroux, Voracek and defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. Van Riemsdyk will be in front of the net and should be able to score from there. He should get more ice time than the 14:54 per game he got last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, so if he and Patrick can find their chemistry and he's effective on the power play, it's conceivable he could score at least 36 if he stays healthy.

Video: TOR@NYI: van Riemsdyk finds twine from high slot

 

Considering that the Florida Panthers beat the Bruins in three of four games in the last month of last season and that they finally bought into coach Bob Boughner's system, do you see them as a team that can rebound and make the playoffs? -- @flapanthers_JZ

Yes. It depends on their health and how strong they are at the start of the season, but I think the Panthers should be in the top four in the Atlantic Division with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Maple Leafs and Bruins. If they start better, they could finish better than the Bruins. I think the Lightning and Maple Leafs are clearly the top two teams in the division. The Panthers should be right in the mix, but they can't have the same start as they had last season: 12-16-5 in their first 33 games. They went 32-14-3 from Dec. 19 to the end of the season but missed the playoffs by one point. Their slow start last season was predictable because Boughner was new and he was changing the way they play by speeding them up and getting the defensemen more involved in the attack. There is no excuse for a slow start this season. The Panthers added a goal-scorer, forward Mike Hoffman. Every player who scored at least 20 points last season is back and their defensemen return intact. The goalies, Roberto Luongo and James Reimer, are back. Borgstrom and Tippett will create competition in training camp.

Video: Looking at the offseason moves by the Panthers

 

If Corey Crawford is unable to return for the start of the 2018-19 season, how effective will Cam Ward be as a starter and how much does this hurt the Chicago Blackhawks' chances of returning to the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season? -- @SamGemini3

The Blackhawks are a bubble team with a healthy Crawford. Without him, I don't like their chances. Crawford, who was out for the last 47 games last season with an upper-body injury, missing the start of the season could be detrimental to the Blackhawks' chances of reaching the playoffs. Bubble teams can't expect to rebound from a slow start. They're not good enough to withstand it.

General manager Stan Bowman said last month that Crawford is on track to be ready to for the start of the season, but we'll know a lot more about his status this weekend, when he is expected to talk to the media at the 11th annual Blackhawks Convention. Even if he says he'll be ready to go, there will be an uneasy feeling until Crawford is on the ice in training camp, preparing to be the starter when Chicago opens the season at the Senators on Oct. 4.

Video: TBL@CAR: Ward makes a flurry of saves in front

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