It was only a matter of time.
With reports on Sunday night that the chase for Artemi Panarin was down to three teams--the Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Islanders and New York Rangers--a decision has reportedly been made by the 27-year-old winger.
Panarin's move to New York has long been speculated, and came to fruition after the Rangers dealt Jimmy Vesey to the Sabres, clearing even more cap space. With over $20 million in funds, the Rangers have the money to give Panarin the loaded contract he so desperately covets.
The Rangers rebuild has been expedited considerably, drafting Kaapo Kakko with the second-overall pick in the NHL Draft and now adding Panarin to a solid young corps. It's not a stretch to assume New York will at the very least compete for a playoff spot in a suddenly fierce Metropolitan Division.
The Metro, which still features the Penguins, Caps and Islanders, just got a whole lot stronger thanks to the Rangers moves and Devils additions of Jack Hughes via the Draft and PK Subban in a trade. Even the Blue Jackets, who lost both Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky, should still be formidable.
Get ready, New York. The Garden has a new star.