Whenever a big name player arrives in Manhattan there are going to be outsized expectations. When he signed a 7 year, $81 million contract last July, those expectations shifted onto Russian winger Artemi Panarin. Panarin came to New York after putting up back to back 80 point seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Adding Panarin to a team that was still rebuilding brought about a lot of questions about the timeline surrounding the team and how Panarin might fit in with a Rangers team that wasn’t exactly brimming with talent.
I don’t think there’s any way to understate this; Artemi Panarin’s debut season on Broadway was the best season a Rangers forward put together since the 2005-06 season. 32 goals and 63 assists for 95 points over 69 games, 4.01 Pts/60, and 24.9 GAR, the best season by a Rangers forward by GAR and it’s not close. The Breadman was exemplary for the Rangers during the pandemic-shortened season, he made every player he played with better and drove the Rangers’ 2nd line featuring center Ryan Strome and winger Jesper Fast. Panarin was one of the main weapons for the Rangers on the man advantage, with his 23 points finishing behind only Mika Zibanejad’s 25 power play points.
Game in and game out, Panarin dazzled on the ice for the Rangers in a way that the MSG hasn’t seen since Jaromir Jagr skated around with Lady Liberty on his chest. All season long Panarin just kept getting better and better and better, using his speed and agility to anticipate where the puck and the play was heading and it only takes him a micro-second to rip any pass by any goalie. There were so many moments throughout the season where Panarin was more than worth the price of admission while the rest of the team was very much not. In a season where no one really knew what to expect, Panarin still managed to beat any of our wildest expectations in a season that culminated in Panarin being named a finalist for the both the Hart Memorial Trophy and the Ted Lindsey Award.
Final Grade: A+
Banter Consensus: A+
Was there really any other grade anyone could give Panarin? He was everything the Rangers brass and fanbase could have wanted and then some. Watching Artemiy Panarin high-kick his way across the season, racking up all the goals and points was one of the best things about this past season and it gives us a taste of what could be a quite potent offensive machine.
All data courtesy of evolving-hockey.com