Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky each can become an unrestricted free agent after this season, but Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said he's happy their status hasn't been a distraction.
"I think [Bobrovsky is] handling himself really well," Tortorella said Friday. "I wasn't sure where all this goes with him and [Panarin], the stuff flying around them. I know that a really big part of my job is to watch that and just make sure we are doing things the right way … it's also the team as far as how they are handling the situation, I think it's been really good."
Bobrovsky and Panarin can each become a UFA on July 1, 2019.
Panarin, a 27-year-old forward, is in the final season of a two-year contract he signed with the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 28, 2016. He has been eligible to sign a contract extension with the Blue Jackets since July 1; however, he said he would not have contract discussions during the season after the two sides failed to reach an agreement prior to training camp in September.