The New York Rangers left wing has been elite since he entered the league in 2015. In the five years, Artemiy Panarin (Artemi Panarin) has been in the league, he has produced no less than 74 points in each season. Hitting a new career-high with 95 points this past season, Panarin continued his elite level of play in his first season in New York.
As voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA), the Hart Trophy is awarded to the player that was most valuable to his team’s regular-season success. The presumed nominees for the trophy are Leon Draisaitl, David Pastrnak, and Nathan MacKinnon. This year, all the talk is how Leon Draisaitl is going to walk away with the award. He did have a phenomenal season, he put up 43 goals and 67 assists, for 110 points in 71 games. But we aren’t here to talk about how great Draisaitl is, we are here to make the case for Artemiy Panarin to win the Hart Trophy.
In 69 games this year, Panarin put up a very impressive stat line.
- 69 games played: 32G / 63A / 95pts / +36 / 71 Even Strength Points / 24 Powerplay Points / 1.38 points per game / 209 Shots on Goal / 15.3% Shooting Percentage / 20:36 Average Time on Ice
Panarin stepped in and took over immediately. Putting up a level of production that New York Ranger fans haven’t seen since Jaromir Jagr was on the team. His dominance was impressive, but what is even more impressive is that he was able to put up those numbers playing the majority of his time on ice alongside Jesper Fast and Ryan Strome.
39% of Panarin’s ice time, along with 38% of his even strength production, came with Fast and Strome. No offense to these guys, but they are not close to what you would call elite talents. Fast is a serviceable middle six/bottom six player and Strome is a solid middle six center. But when you look at the level of talent the nominees played with, there is a huge difference.
Looking at Draisaitl, he spent most of his time on ice alongside the league’s second-highest scoring player, Connor McDavid. A lot of people like to point out that he finished the season with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto. When you look at his season-long production, Draisaitl produced similarly, at even strength, on both of his top two lines. The more telling stat is his powerplay production. He had, a league-leading, 44 powerplay points, and 40 of those points came while playing with Connor McDavid.
On arguably the best line in hockey, Pastrnak almost exclusively played alongside Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron in every aspect of the game. Smart move for the Bruins. He only scored 10 of his 57 even strength points without one of Bergeron or Marchand and only one of his 38 power-play points. Pastrnak was tied, with Panarin, for third in the league with 95 points. Marchand was sixth with 87 points.
Mackinnon might be the toughest one to gauge on this list. Yes, he is elite. Yes, he has some elite talent to play with. But that elite talent was banged up this year. Mikko Rantanen only played in 42 games, Gabriel Landeskog only played in 54 games. When they did play together, they produced at their usual rate. When injuries struck, MacKinnon had rotating linemates and saw his production spread out a bit more.
Just a quick recap…
- Draisaitl and McDavid are 1 & 2 on the scoring list, both averaging over 1.50 points per game.
- Pastrnak plays on an elite line, almost exclusively, with another top 6 scoring player.
- MacKinnon had a tough road, but when Rantanen was on the ice he was producing at about a point per game.
- Panarin had Strome, who had 59 points in 70 games, and Fast, who had 29 points in 69 games, and still produced 95 points. With a league-leading 71 points at even strength.
I’m not trying to take anything away from the stellar seasons that Draisaitl, Pastrnak, and MacKinnon had. It seems Artemiy Panarin has been overlooked due to the play of the Rangers as a whole. When the season was put on hold, the Rangers were seventh in the Metropolitan division, and 2 points out of a wild card spot. The Oilers, Bruins, and Avalanche were all securely in a playoff spot. That usually brings more weight into nominating players for this trophy, although it shouldn’t.
Artemiy Panarin has more than proved himself worthy of a nomination for the Hart Memorial Trophy. While the other three names mentioned all had seasons of elite production, There is no doubt in my mind that Artemiy Panarin was the player that most valuable to the New York Rangers’ regular-season success. Without him, there is no way the Rangers are only two points out of a wild card spot in March.
Panarin For Hart!!!!!
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