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Panarin jumps to the top of TSN's Trade Bait board

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Jarmo Kekalainen's phone has been lit up like a Christmas tree since Monday.

Dan Milstein, a chief executive of Artem Panarin's agent, is the ultimate leader in the field.

"It’s disappointing," Kekalainen told reporters Tuesday. "But we can do our best."

The consensus now is that it is more likely to be traded than not.

That makes Panarin the new No. 1 is TSN's Trade Bait board, bumping Matt Duchene and his uncertain future in Ottawa down to No. 2.

Rarely does a talent like the Bread Man at any point on the hockey calendar. Panarin, 27, is one of the few wingers who drives play on a nightly basis. He is on a pace for a career-best 33 goals and 96 points.

Unlike fellow pending unrestricted free agent Sergei Bobrovsky, Panarin does not have any-trade protection and can be moved to any team.

Panarin is the golden TradeCentre chip that both playoffs and rebuilding teams covet.

But Kekalainen is facing the ultimate manager's conundrum before the Feb. 25 deadline. They do not have to worry about the fact that they are not the only ones who do not want to pay the price.

Panarin finished 25 points clear of the Blue Jackets' next closest scorer last season. Clearly, Kekalan needs some of the current roster players with futures in prospects and first-round picks.

What Kekalainen can get for Panarin's interest or willingness to negotiate a long-term extension with a potential suitor.

Quoted by underwelming returns offered for pending UFAs Jack Johnson and Matt Calvert last year, which is why the Blue Jackets ended up keeping them to make a run.

The bet is Kekalainen won't have the same flexibility this time around.

"We've got all the time to make hard decisions if we have to," Kekalainen told reporters. “But our focus is on getting better, making it as well as possible for the future, obviously. If we have a hard decision, we will. We like Artemi and would like to keep him. It 's right to go to the free agency, and if they chooses to do so we' ll be knocking on his door July 1 ”

Here's the TSN Hockey's latest Trade Bait Board, which always strives for a prominence of being traded:

Embedded Image1. Artemi Panarin, CBJLW27471955$ 6MUFA
Embedded Image2. Matt Duchene, OTTC28412047$ 6MUFA
3. Wayne Simmonds, PHIRW30501523$ 3.98MUFA
4. Micheal Ferland, CARLW26411325$ 1.75MUFA
5. Mats Zuccarello, NYRRW3135824$ 4.5MUFA
6. Dougie Hamilton, CARRD2550819$ 5.75M2
7. Gustav Nyquist, DETRW29511143$ 4.75MUFA
Embedded Image8. Cam Talbot, EDMG31273.27.894$ 4.17MUFA
9. Derick Brassard, PITC3140915$ 5MUFA
10. Sergei Bobrovsky, CBJG30352.97.902$ 7.43MUFA
11. Jakub Silfverberg, ANARW28421219$ 3.75MUFA
12. Jimmy Howard, DETG34342.76.916$ 5.3MUFA
13. Charlie Coyle, MINC2650926$ 3.2M1
Embedded Image14. Alec Martinez, LAKRD3136311$ 4M2
15. Kevin Hayes, NYRC26401033$ 5.18MUFA
16. Brayden Schenn, STLC2745927$ 5.13M1
17. Colton Parayko, STLRD2549813$ 5.5M3
18. Jeff Carter, LAKC33491025$ 5.27M3
19. Cody Ceci, OTTRD2446515$ 4.3MRFA
20. Brett Pesce, CARRD2341311$ 4.03M5
21. Alex Edler, VANLD3236520$ 5MUFA
22. Andre Burakovsky, WSHLW2344612$ 3MRFA
23. Marcus Johansson, NJDLW2837717$ 4.58MUFA
24. Chris Kreider, NYRLW27492237$ 4.63M1
Embedded Image25. Mark Stone, OTTRW26502250$ 7.35MUFA
26. Nick Bjugstad, FLAC / RW2632512$ 4.1M2
27. Justin Faulk, CARRD2650317$ 4.83M1
28. Alex Steen, STLLW3435615$ 5.75M2
29. Jay Bouwmeester, STLLD3545210$ 5.4MUFA
Embedded Image30. Kasperi Kapanen, TORRW22491530$ 863KRFA
31. Andreas Johnsson, TORLW24431022$ 788KRFA
32. Ryan Dzingel, OTTLW26482038$ 1.8MUFA
33. Patrick Maroon, STLLW3041414$ 1.75MUFA
Embedded Image34. Jesse Puljujarvi, EDMRW203949$ 925KRFA
35. Adam McQuaid, NYRRD322503$ 2.75MUFA
36. Niklas Kronwall, DETLD3848214$ 4.75MUFA
37. Bogdan Kiselvich, FLALD283108$ 925KUFA
38. Chris Tanev, VANRD2946210$ 4.45M1
39. Vlad Namestnikov, NYRLW2545416$ 4M1
40. Carl Hagelin, LAKLW302926$ 4MUFA
41. Nathan Beaulieu, BUFLD262637$ 2.4MRFA
42. Dale Weise, PHIRW3042511$ 2.35M1
43. Mikkel Boedker, OTTLW2950527$ 4M1
44. Sam Gagner, VANRW29713$ 3.15M1
45. Jeff Skinner, BUFLW26493145$ 5.73MUFA


No. 5: Maple Leafs First-Round Pick – Toronto to Los Angeles is Jan. 28
No. 13: Chris Wideman – Ottawa to Edmonton on Nov. 22
No. 14: Tanner Pearson – Los Angeles to Pittsburgh on Nov. 14
No. 17: Jake Muzzin – Los Angeles to Toronto is Jan. 28
No. 27: Alex Petrovic – Florida to Edmonton on Dec. 29
No. 27: Nino Niederreiter – Minnesota to Carolina is Jan. 17
No. 28: Brandon Manning – Chicago to Edmonton on Dec. 29
No. 35: Michael Del Zotto – Vancouver to Anaheim is Jan. 16
No. 35: Jamie Oleksiak – Pittsburgh to Dallas is Jan. 29
No. 36: Luke Schenn – Anaheim to Vancouver on Jan. 16

Contact Frank Seravalli is Twitter: @frank_seravalli

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