Artemi Panarin Deserves Much More of Your Attention

With a nickname as unique as the name of the popular sandwich place, the Rangers' so called "Breadman" is one of the league's most underrated players
New York Rangers v Detroit Red Wings
New York Rangers v Detroit Red Wings / Nic Antaya/GettyImages
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He's got a friendly smile, one of if not the quirkiest nicknames in the whole NHL, and he can score goals like nobody's business. Artemi Panarin has proven himself once again as one of the NHL's top left wingers, and yet, he still isn't quite getting the credit he deserves.

The 32-year-old native of Korkino in what was at the time still the USSR has an astonishing points total this season that puts him in great consideration for the Hart Trophy, awarded to the player who is determined as the league MVP. It's arguably the 2nd most prestigious award in the game after the Stanley Cup, given the sheer amount of talent needed to even be nominated let alone win the thing.

Panarin's numbers in 2023/24 more than make a solid argument, however- 46 goals, 70 assists, for a total of 116 points. In all 3 of those, those are levels he's never achieved in his 9 year career until now. Not to mention that's also borderline insane when compared to the rest of the team. He's 5 ahead of Chris Kreider in goals (39), 16 ahead of Adam Fox in assists (54), and a ridiculous 40 ahead of Vincent Trocheck for points (76).

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Very few seasons occur where one player leads the rest of his teammates like that in statistics of that magnitude. Panarin is also just 8 points shy of tying the Rangers franchise record for points in a season, the benchmark of 116 set by NHL journeyman legend Jaromir Jagr in 2005/06.

It's true that Panarin may not have quite the scoring prowess of fellow left wing stars Nathan MacKinnon and Nikita Kucherov, but he's still been the Rangers' biggest playmaker. Especially after a slump in 2022/23, where even then, he managed 29 goals and 63 assists for 92 points while also playing in all 82 regular season games.

Before 2022/23, the last time he'd done that was back in his 2nd year in the league, his 2nd and final year with Chicago (31 goals, 43 assists, 74 pts). And one more thing, the Rangers' power play unit has degraded a little bit with Mika Zibanejad underperforming a little this season compared his past seasons (26 goals, 43 assists, 69 points) That's just another reason why Panarin is most likely the key piece in the puzzle for the Rangers when it'll come to making a deep playoff run just over a week from now.