The 26-year-old Panarin is coming off a career season in which he scored 82 points (27 goals, 55 assists) in 81 games. He has notched 151 career points in 162 career contests with the Blue Jackets and the Chicago Blackhawks.
Columbus reportedly is willing to offer Panarin a maximum eight-year deal worth up to $11 million per season. However, Panarin has declined to sign a long-term extension up to this point, putting him on track to hit free agency at the end of next season. His agent, Daniel Milstein, told the Athletic last week that his client's reluctance to sign at the moment is related to the length of the deal, as he would prefer a shorter-term agreement.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that Panarin is on vacation in Nice, France, with teammate Sergei Bobrovsky. Like Panarin, Bobrovsky is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next summer unless he agrees to an extension with Columbus, although it's unclear whether Bobrovsky will also meet with Kekalainen.
Panarin posted on his Twitter and Instagram accounts that he was preparing for the meeting, along with a photo of an inflatable raft being pulled behind a boat.
"I meet with him every day during the season, so this is nothing out of the ordinary," Kekalainen told the Dispatch at the end of June. "We're both in Europe and have a situation that has come up. I want to talk to him, make sure we're on the same page when he gets here for training camp."
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