"When I played here in Chicago, I (thought) I would play here my whole life," Panarin said after Wednesday's 6-3 win over his former club, according to The Daily Herald's John Dietz. "And then that (trade to the Columbus Blue Jackets) happened. It still confuse(s) me."
Panarin played in the KHL from 2008-2015 before Chicago recruited him to the NHL. He made an immediate impact during the 2015-16 season, scoring 30 goals and 77 points and taking home the Calder Trophy.
He continued his excellent play during his second season in Chicago and then signed a two-year, $12-million contract extension.
"I don't want to be that guy. I want to play on a winning team," Panarin told his former agent, Dan Milstein, of signing a team-friendly deal, according to Dietz. "Give them the flexibility so they can retain the guys or sign the new guys because it's not about me. I'm young. I'm going to make plenty of money in my future."
"I was not ready for that. It was a big surprise for me. I (felt) bad after the trade," Panarin added.
The 28-year-old inked a seven-year, $81.5-million deal with the Rangers last summer. He's on pace for a career year in his first season with the club, tallying 30 goals and 79 points in 58 games.