Jeff Gorton admits that Artemi Panarin always came to the New York Rangers: “My job was not to ruin it”

Artemi Panarin

February 14, 2020; Columbus, Ohio, USA; New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) follows the puck in games against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first period at the Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Artemi Panarin is without a doubt one of the best free agent signings, not just in New York, but possibly the entire league. Since joining Blueshirts in the 2019-20 season, the 29-year-old has scored (49 goals, 104 assists) 153 points in 111 games.

In a recent interview, former Rangers GM Jeff Gorton admitted that Panarin would always likely land with Rangers.

Jeff Gorton on signing Artemi Panarin

Jeff Marek spoke with Jeff Gorton, now an analyst at the NHL Network, and wanted to ask about signing Artemi Panarin. Especially the fact that almost everyone around the league knew that was where he wanted to be anyway.

“Listen, I think any general manager of Rangers would probably get him, I’m not naive enough not to believe it,” he said. “My job at the end of the day was not to screw up. We gave him a lot of money, but he had some other choices, so we had to step in a salary for him. He wanted to come to New York, and we all felt that way. My job was to keep me out of the way and get him a contract. ”

Gorton also acknowledged that Panarin was one of the best players in the world and that it was generally an easy negotiation.

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November 23, 2019; Montreal, Quebec, KAN; New York Rangers center Artemi Panarin (10) in a third period meeting against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Center. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The day after Panarin signed, I confirmed with a team source that the Rangers felt very confident that Panarin was theirs on the way into July 1st. But things went a little sideways late on the eve of free agent madness. That was when Columbus made a big push, including the 8th year to get him to stay. It was just something the jackets could offer to have its rights. There were also rumors that the islands would rise to $ 13 million. It was insane 24 hours before Panarin decided.

All this was because they were not 100% sure where Panarin was going towards the morning. It was not until around noon on July 1 that they began to breathe a sigh of relief. Rangers had a great chip to play. They put wisely in front of the contract, which really was only them and a few other rich teams in the league that could really do anything. That’s how they could compete with Columbus’ term advantage.

In the end, Panarin listened to his heart and chose to sign with the team he always wanted to play for.

“I dreamed of playing for Rangers and my heart has been here,” he said through a translator. “I feel a little overwhelmed, but I’m really happy.”

His contract is one of the largest in the NHL at $ 11,642 a year, but so far he is worth every penny. The 29-year-old winger has five years left on his contract and must continue to be a top player for much of it.

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