When the Rangers signed Artemiy Panarin to a 7-year, $81.5 million deal this offseason, expectations were high to say the least, as the move made a statement on what the franchise was looking to do with their “build.” In addition to adding a bonafide superstar to the their ranks, the Rangers also drafted Kaapo Kakko 2nd overall, traded Neal Pionk for Jacob Trouba, and acquired Adam Fox, When you add all of that up, things were really exciting, and carried us through the summer, the rookie tournaments, and the offseason...and then the season started.
Through the first quarter of the season there haven’t been many bright spots for the Blueshirts as the team has been uneven on offense, and a disaster in their own end. However, the Russian winger has been living up to expectations with a line of 9 goals and 14 assists for 23 points in just 18 games played this season.
What’s been impressive about this production is that there’s been only two games this season in which Panarin has gone without a point, and he’s had eight multi-point games through the first quarter of the season.
Panarin’s been noticeable in all three zones with his wizardry in the offensive zone, his tenacity in transition throughout the neutral zone, and his unusually sound positioning in the defensive end. On the power play, Panarin has been a legitimate threat every time he’s on the ice in a way that the Rangers haven’t had in a long, long time.
While the boxcars and highlights have been great to look at and watch, with a team as frankly bad as the Rangers are; it’s important to take a look under the hood. It’s also important to put things into perspective by looking at how Panarin has fared in the past when looking at his current production.
When looking at the raw per 60 rates (all numbers courtesy of the wonderful Evolving-Wild twins) you can see that Panarin is having his “worst” season since his rookie campaign in 2015-16 with the Chicago Blackhawks. Artemiy is putting up negative shot share numbers and expected goal numbers, while shooting 17% on Broadway.
However, because of how bad the Rangers are you can see that Panarin has been incredibly effective relative to the team around him, though still below the levels he was at in Columbus and Chicago. This dip in his production can be tied to a couple of factors; it’s a smaller sample we’re working with, Panarin is playing in a new system with a coaching staff that is questionable at best, and he’s not exactly had the opportunity to play with the Rangers best forwards consistently as he’s been playing mostly with Ryan Strome and Jesper Fast while Mika Zibanejad has been out injured.
While Panarin might be having a rough (by his standards) start, his 5-on-5 play with the man-advantage has been legitimately great in the early going.
The Breadman is dominating the shot share in a way he hasn’t in his career to date while also creating so much more than he has since his days with Patrick Kane. Setting up mostly in the Alex Ovechkin/Zibanejad spot, the obvious threat of his shot has allowed Panarin to get creative and move the puck around, getting PKers tired, and setting up for that deadly shot of his.
Looking back on the first quarter of the season, Artemiy Panarin has been a joy to watch and his talent is at a level that the Rangers haven’t had in a long, long time. His underlying numbers this season have taken a bit of a hit playing with a team loaded with young, raw forward talent and maybe not the best defensive corps or coaching staff. No matter how you slice it, the 28 year old Russian sniper has been one of the few reasons to turn on MSG Network this autumn.