Hart-emi Panarin looks to expand on his MVP caliber talent in 2020-21
We continue our series of New York Rangers report cards. Today, we take a look at 2019-20 Hart Memorial Trophy finalist, Artemi Panarin
Artemi Panarin: Grade A+
When the New York Rangers made an unexpected splash in free-agency last offseason by signing Russian forward, Artemi Panarin, to a seven year, $74,500,000 contract, Rangers’ fans knew the caliber of player that they were picking up with Panarin, but in our wildest dreams, we had no idea that he would have the best season of his career (so far) in his first year in New York. Couple that with the fact that Panarin turned down a monster contract from the crosstown rival New York Islanders and took less money to come play for the Rangers, makes his success taste that much sweeter.
Panarin had one of the best seasons in New York Rangers history. By January of 2020, Panarin became the first player in franchise history to have 60 points in the first 43 games as a Blueshirt, a record previously held by the Great One, Wayne Gretzky with 59 points.
January 13th, 2020 will go down as one of the most important nights in Panarin’s career; in a game against the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden, Panarin broke three franchise records in one game:
- First player in Rangers history to record six three-point games (six goals, 16 assists) in a nine game span
- Second Ranger in franchise history to record nine plus points in four consecutive games
- Second Ranger in the last 40 years to record 67 points in the team’s first 45 games
Panarin finished the 2019-20 season third in the league in points with 95, tied for second in the league in assists with 63, tied for 13th in the league in goals with 32, and second in the league with a +36 plus/minus. Panarin was voted in as the New York Rangers MVP for the 2019-20 season, and finished third in voting for the Hart Memorial Trophy with 52.29% of the votes (24 first place votes, 41 second place votes, 54 third place votes, 17 fifth place votes)
Goals: 32 (T-13th in league)
Assists: 63 (2nd in league)
Points: 95 (3rd in league)
Even Strength Points: 71 (1st in the NHL)
Plus/Minus: +36 (2nd in league)
Blocked shots: 18
Postseason: Perhaps it was due to the three month pause that plagued the 2019-20 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Panarin had a tough postseason. Panarin had two points on one goal and one assist in the three games against the Carolina Hurricanes before the Rangers were swept. Panarin also had a -3 plus/minus in the three game series.
Why the grade?
This was a pretty simple grade. Panarin was almost the league MVP for crying out loud! He broke franchise records, he was top three in the league in points and assists, and I think most importantly of all, after a season that was supposed to be a wash for the Rangers, a season that was supposed to be a rebuilding year, he gave Rangers’ fans hope. He showed us that this team is way ahead of schedule in terms of the rebuild, he showed us that stars want to play here with us, and he gave us Rangers’ fans something to be proud of.
For Rangers’ fans such as myself, I would be more than thrilled to see Panarin go out and have himself a repeat season. But for the national media, and for fans of other teams, anything less than being back in Hart Memorial Trophy conversation will be seen as a step backward for the 29-year-old Panarin. If he can build on his stellar 2019-20 campaign, I don’t think he’ll have any problem being in the running for MVP come season’s end.
There is a lot of pressure on the Rangers’ shoulders this season. Between Alexis Lafrenière setting out to show why he was worthy of the number one overall pick, Igor Shesterkin stepping into the beloved Henrik Lundqvist’s shoes, and Mika Zibanejad trying to continue to be an elite goal scorer, I think Panarin has the most pressure on his shoulder’s to perform in 2020-21.