Team awards for Artemi Panarin, Jesper Fast & Chris Kreider

The New York Rangers named their team award winners and there were no surprises

Usually the New York Rangers announce their team award winners at their last home game of the season.  Since the COVID-19 pandemic made that impossible, the team announced its winners today, just before their first and only exhibition game.

Team MVP: Artemi Panarin

No question about this, the award goes to Artemi Panarin.  The Rangers’ Hart Trophy and Lindsay Award finalist was destined to win this award, though Mika Zibanejad garnered some votes.  This award is voted by the New York media and Panarin is the first Ranger to win in his first year with the team since Mark Messier in 1992.  Let’s hope that he follows in Messier’s footsteps in bringing the ultimate success back to New York.

We all know what Panarin did this season and while he had a great supporting cast, he was the single biggest reason that the Blueshirts leaped from a rebuilding team to a Playoff contender.  He is the first Russian player to win the Rangers’ award succeeding Zibanejad, last year’s selection. It’s worth noting that Henrik Lundqvist won this award nine times in the last 13 seasons.

Players’ Player Award: Jesper Fast

This award goes to the player “who best exemplifies what it means to be a team player” and it is determined by the players themselves.  Jesper Fast won the award again, for the fifth straight year.  It’s obvious that his teammates appreciate what “Quickie” brings to the team.  He is the first Ranger to win the award five straight years.  He had tied Jean Ratelle and Brian Leetch by winning it four years in a row.

Fast is an Unrestricted Free Agent this summer and if there is any doubt that the team will try to retain him, it goes away with this honor.   He will play a key role in this off-season and the hope has to be that the team’s decision to keep him at the trade deadline will pay off.

John Halligan Good Guy Award: Chris Kreider

The final award was given to Chris Kreider, who has become a team leader and spokesman for his teammates.  The Award “recognizes a player for their cooperation with the media throughout the season” and is voted on by the reporters who cover the team.

Kreider has become one of the players who is always willing to talk after a win or a loss and he has taken a leadership role on the team.  He mentors his younger teammates and with his new long-term contract, he has to be seen as a candidate for team captain.

The Award was renamed in honor of John Halligan, the Rangers’ long time public relations director after his death in 2010.

The only team award left is the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, voted on by the fans.

Congratulations to all of these award winners.  Let’s hope that they add  a Stanley Cup to the team trophy case sometime soon.