Hartnett: Artemi Panarin Having Debut Season To Remember With Rangers

Forward Tallied Career-High Five Points In Win Over Islanders

Sean Hartnett
January 14, 2020 - 1:25 pm

Artemi Panarin’s popularity among The Garden faithful reached new heights after he recorded a five-point night in a 6-2 blowout over the rival Islanders.

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The 28-year-old wing scores and creates goals in a variety of ways. He can slip by opposition defenders like they aren’t there to find a clean patch of ice for a one-timer opportunity, he can use his off-the-charts acceleration to create separation to break away alone on goal, he can fire off a shot from practically anywhere in the offensive zone with a fast release and pinpoint accuracy.

Panarin constantly outthinks and outmaneuvers the opposition. It’s like he’s playing three-dimensional chess and is several moves ahead of everyone on the ice. On Monday, he tied his career high point total by tallying two goals and three assists. In all, Panarin registered six shots on goal.

NY Rangers center Artemi Panarin is congratulated after scoring a goal against the Vancouver Canucks Oct 20, 2019; New York, NY
Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Only Edmonton duo Connor McDavid (71 points) and Leon Draisaitl (70 points) have more points than Panarin’s 67 through 45 games. It’s possible that Panarin could pass the pair once the Rangers catch up. Edmonton has played two more games than the Blueshirts.

It’s now looking possible that Panarin could make a run at several franchise single-season records. Jaromir Jagr holds the Rangers’ record for most points in a season with 123 during the 2005-06 season. Panarin is on pace to finish the year with 122 points. He’s right in striking distance and as long as he stays away from injuries, he has a real shot to break Jagr’s record.

It might be a little more difficult for Panarin to eclipse the Rangers’ all-time single-season assist record. Back in 1991-92, Brian Leetch logged 80 helpers in 80 games. Currently with 41 assists to his name, Panarin is on pace to finish with 75 assists.

Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin in action against the Winnipeg Jets Oct 3, 2019; New York, NY
Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

As for the rest of the league, Panarin leads the NHL with 52 even-strength points, 32 even-strength assists, 45 five-on-five points and 29 five-on-five assists. He is also tied for the NHL lead with 20 multi-point games.

It hasn’t taken long for Rangers fans to recognize Panarin’s wizardry with the puck on his stick, his cannon shot, his ability to make teammates around him better, his hounding of the puck to create turnovers and instant offense. In the 94-year history of the Rangers, there hasn’t been a more complete forward who has more tools in his arsenal to outwit and undo opponents.

Right now, the Rangers aren’t a playoff team and need to make up a bit of ground. Whether the Blueshirts fight their way into the playoff conversation or fall out of the race in the second half, the Rangers are must-see TV because of Panarin. He is fun in a 5-foot-11 frame. He has more magic in his stick than Harry Potter. He’s positioned himself to be in the Hart Trophy conversation and he’s having the greatest debut season of anyone in Ranger history.

Follow Sean on Twitter: @HartnettHockey