Rangers win Panarin derby: Stanley Cup Odds

Depending on which sports book you looked at, the New York Rangers were the second or third choice to capture the 2020 Stanley Cup. That’s second or third from the bottom, with only the lowly Ottawa Senators considered the deepest longshot.

However, that’s no longer the vase after Rangers president John Davidson took an aggressive approach to institute a turnaround by the Blueshirts after signing left wing Artemi Panarin to a seven-year contract on Monday’s first day that NHL free agents may sign with any club.

Panarin, the Columbus cannon with a big shot and high goal-scoring capability, captured the 2016 Calder Trophy as rookie of the year to start a solid career most fans don’t know much about after being stuck playing in central Ohio in one of the league’s smallest markets.

While Panarin inked a deal valued at $81.5 million, waves of cash also started to flood New Jersey sportsbooks with Futures plays on the Rangers.

Opening at a consensus 80-1 choice (often tied with the New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings), a full 10 points came off the odds overnight to leave the Rangers at 70-1.

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Meanwhile, the books have yet to address the Blue Jackets, who entered the free agency period at 25-1, yet should drop to the 40-or-50 range.

For the Rangers, although capturing the Metropolitan Division still seems unlikely, surpassing clubs like aging Pittsburgh, defensively-challenge Philadelphia and the neighbor Devils to reach one of the three automatic berths out of the division now seems fully plausible.

And it’s not just the signing of Panarin, who averaged 80 points over each of his four NHL campaigns.

Despite the retirement by Rick Nash, who was signed by Columbus as a consultant and a possible personal coach should Panarin remained with the Blue Jackets, Davidson also announced a slew of other signings.

Joining Panarin is forward Kaapo Kakko, plus defensemen Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba.

Kakko comes toMSG as a result of the Rangers gaining the No. 2 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery, moving up four positions to claim the 18-year old right winger.

Fox, a Hobey Baker Award finalist out of Harvard, was gained in a trade with Carolina in later April.

Trouba was acquired in mid-June from Winnipeg when the Jets dumped salaries to remain under the salary cap.

That left the Rangers with cap room to a pair of Monday afternoon free agent signings in forwards Danny O’Regan (AHL Rochester) and Greg McKegg (Carolina).
Lots of interest
After rejecting his final offer from Columbus, Panarin selected the Rangers after receiving reported quality bids from the Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers and New York Islanders.

This past season, Panarin finished with 87 points, then helped the Jackets to their first-ever Stanley Cup series win by shocking top-seeded Tampa Bay in a four-game sweep.

Not done yet

The Rangers still need to sign their restricted free agents, including defenseman Tony DeAngelo and forwards Pavel Buchnevich and Brendan Lemieux.

They also have to figure out the future of left wing Chris Kreider, who after this season can become an unrestricted free agent. Kreider will likely be re-signed or traded before the season begins.

The defense remains steady with ageless veteran Henrik Lundqvist in goal, wit Bulgaria protégé Alexandar Georgiev ready as the goalie of the future.
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