The New York Rangers are on their version of what we school kids dub “Winter Vacation,” which means it’s time for report cards. With the power vested in me as a contributor here at “Blue line station,” I’ve given each player a lettered grade based on how they’ve measured against their expected performances this season. Some players did well, while others are probably thankful they have another half to right their respective ships.
I hope you enjoy and remember to voice your impending disagreements in the comments section below, where I’ll be waiting for you to talk about the state of the Blueshirts. Now click that arrow as your adventure awaits…
LW, ARTEMI PANARIN
Although he was named to the all-star team, the breadman isn’t performing up to the standard of an $11.6 million player.
His -4 +/- is third worst on the team, his turnover rate has skyrocketed, and his hesitance to shoot has served as the primary reason for him not meshing with his new linemate Vincent Trocheck. Coach Gerard Gallant admitted as much in a press conference earlier this season, where he said part of the constant changes to his lines are so he can “Get Panarin going.”
Regardless of how you view the team leader in points and the game-seven OT hero from last season’s playoffs, Panarin isn’t the same player that he was during his 2019-20 campaign when he was a finalist for the Hart Trophy and hasn’t lived up to his early season proclamation of “Being more involved in goals.”
C, MIKA ZIBANEJAD:
If the NHL hadn’t instituted the requirement of the all-star game having at least one player from each team, Mika Zibanejad would’ve been in Florida with Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox, and Igor Shesterkin. The center leads the team in goals(22), is second in points(49), has a +- of 15, and is a part of the penalty kill as a testament to his two-way-hockey prowess.
Yet, the $8.5 million man gets a “B” from me because of his 22 tallies, a mere nine have come at even strength, along with his poor 47.2 winning% on faceoffs. Even with Zibanejad’s team-leading 13 power-play goals, the man-advantage unit has been primarily powerless this season. It is currently 17th in the NHL with a 21.6% conversion rate, primarily due to Mika’s inability to hit the net consistently.
The Swede paces the team in that department with 77 shots gone wide, most of which is his predictable one-timer from the left circle on power plays.
RW, JIMMY VESEY(Team MIP)
After an uninspiring first stint on broadway from 2017-2019, the winger bounced from Buffalo, Toronto, Vancouver, and New Jersey before the Blueshirts reached out again with a professional tryout contract at the beginning of training camp.
Management recognized a player who had reinvented himself to become a reliable penalty killer and someone who keeps things simple, allowing him to fit in on any line Gallant places him in.
Offensively, Vesey has nine goals and 17 points in 48 games after posting a combined 18 issues over the last two seasons. He’s been handsomely rewarded with a two-year $1.6 million AAV extension for his efforts which keeps him in New York through the 2024-2025 season.
Most importantly, the Tennessee native has shown he can handle the bright lights of New York City, which isn’t for everyone.