Artemi Panarin continues to do everything right
At the start of the season, not many expected the Rangers to be leading the Metropolitan Division after one half, and the reason New York is in this position is because of Artemi Panarin. Panarin is playing at a Hart Trophy-like pace and has 66 points already.
Panarin has also made his two linemates, Vincent Trocheck and Alexis Lafreniere, exponentially better. Trocheck was just in Toronto for the All-Star game, his first time as a Ranger and second in his career, and Lafreniere leads the Rangers in scoring opportunities and looks leaps and bounds better than he did just a few years ago. It starts with these two at even strength, but Panarin does it all -- he is also tied for the team lead in power play goals with 9.
If any doubts were going into this season, Panarin has proven he is one of the best players in the NHL. The Rangers will go as far as he goes, and if he continues to make the team better, New York will continue to excel. Moreover, if Panarin keeps this up, expect his name to be thrown around in the Hart conversation.