The Boston Bruins have won six games in a row and are playing like legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, so it wouldn't be surprising if they made a move to upgrade their roster before the Feb. 25 NHL trade deadline.
One of the most talked about trade candidates is Columbus Blue Jackets left winger Artemi Panarin. In Sportsnet reporter Elliotte Friedman's latest "31 Thoughts" column on Tuesday, he wrote about how the Bruins fit into the Panarin sweepstakes at the moment.
8. I think the teams with the best chances at signing Panarin long-term are Florida, Los Angeles, the Islanders and the Rangers. The only one that makes sense to take a shot at him for rental purposes is the Islanders. Boston hovers as a rental option, too. If the Islanders don’t get their top choices, GM Lou Lamoriello could consider old acquaintance Ilya Kovalchuk. Remember, the winger has control over his destination.
Panarin is without question one of the best players rumored to be available at the deadline. He has tallied 67 points (24 goals, 43 assists) in 56 games for the Blue Jackets this season. He's on pace to hit the 70-point mark for the fourth straight season. Panarin will be an unrestricted free agent July 1 if not signed before that date.
The 27-year-old is a legitimate top-six forward and could significantly bolster any contending team's hopes of winning the Stanley Cup. If the Bruins are going to give up prime assets for a rental, Panarin should be among their top targets. He's a much better player than Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds, a player in whom the B's reportedly are interested.
The Bruins also are rumored to be interested in Senators right winger Mark Stone, who -- like Panarin -- is in the prime of his career and eligible to be a UFA this summer.
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