The Pittsburgh Penguins have expressed an interest in signing 23 year old KHL winger Artemi Panarin, a league source confirms.
Panarin, 23, plays for St. Petersburg of the KHL and led them in scoring with 26 goals and 62 points in 54 games. He has 6 points in 8 playoff games.
He scored more points than teammate Ilya Kovalchuk and is a tremendously talented player who’s regarded as the Patrick Kane of the KHL. “This is a guy Jim Rutherford really wants,” a source says.
The Penguins have been in contact with agent Todd Lynn but an opportunity to immediately play in the NHL will be very important to where Panarin signs, a source with knowledge of the situation says.
The Penguins will have one or two spots available in their top-6 next season.
Panarin has the skill set of a top-6 forward but is small at 5-11, 170lbs.
The Penguins like many NHL teams are very intrigued to see how Panarin matches up at the World Championships. When the Penguins had interest in Damien Brunner a few years ago when he was planning to come to the NHL, Pittsburgh’s interest dropped off once they saw how he performed against NHL caliber players at the World Championships.
Pittsburgh in fact decided to pass and never made an offer to Brunner.