Predicting the Rangers’ biggest point producer in the 2023-24 season

Rangers, New York Rangers, Artemi Panarin
Oct 23, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) reacts before a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have made themselves home to some of the best offensive players in the entire NHL. The Rangers’ roster is comprised between a mix of bonafide stars and young talent with massive potential, providing the team with an elite level of skill every game.

Last season, Artemi Panarin finished with the highest point total on the team with 92 points in a full 82-game season. Other Blueshirts teammates came close to matching Panarin’s point total, making this upcoming season’s point race extremely interesting.

Panarin could finally break 100 points for the Rangers

Panarin has come close to hitting the 100-point mark in nearly every season he’s spent in New York since signing with the Rangers in 2019. His closest effort came in the 2021-2022 season, where he finished with 96 points in just 75 games. Had Panarin played through the entire season, he certainly would have reached a feat of which not many NHL stars are capable.

Outside of a shortened 2020 COVID season, Panarin’s lowest career point total was 74 points during his sophomore season. He continuously produces elite numbers and has finished as the biggest point producer every season since joining the Rangers.

There’s a strong chance he may repeat once again this year, but there are other Rangers who could match his total. At 31 years old, age may soon begin to influence Panarin’s game. But only time will tell if he still has a 100-point season in him.

Mika Zibanejad’s goal-scoring ability could come into play

The Rangers’ number one center Mika Zibanejad finished just shy of Panarin’s total last season, piling up 91 points. Whereas Panarin contributed mainly in the form of assists, Zibanejad’s main area of expertise is his ability to score goals. Zibanejad has solidified himself as the best goal scorer on the team, leading the Rangers with 39 goals in the 2023 regular season.

Zibanejad and LW Chris Kreider have always had strong chemistry together on the first line, but now adding in a young Kaapo Kakko who is on the verge of a breakout may be enough to propel Zibanejad to the next level.

It’s highly possible that Zibanejad could score upwards of 50 goals this season. Combining that with his ability to pass the puck as well, his point total may just finish highest on the Rangers.

Could a defenseman lead the Rangers in points?

While very rare in the NHL, a strong offensive-minded defenseman has the ability to lead their team with enough skill. Just last season, Erik Karlsson won the Norris Trophy while scoring over 100 points for the San Jose Sharks. The only man on the Rangers who has the ability to achieve this feat is superstar Adam Fox.

Last season, Fox finished high up on the Rangers’ standings with 72 points in 82 games. This number isn’t as close to the top as Zibanejad came, but there is room for Fox to grow this upcoming season. Being just 25 years old, Fox is just now entering the prime of his career.

“Let’s also remember that Fox is entering what is only his fifth NHL season and has already become a household name after being selected in the third round of the 2016 NHL Draft. He is continuing to become a more well-rounded player and he hasn’t even started to reach his peak yet.” 

via The Hockey News

Fox will continue to receive the most playing time of any defenseman on the team. If he continues to perform on the power play, Fox may have the ability to be a 100-point-scoring defenseman soon. It’ll be tough for him to compete with other stars like Panarin or Zibanejad, but Fox certainly has the potential to be the biggest point producer on the Rangers.

Who will finish at the top for the Rangers?

Considering every name on the Blueshirts, it’s tough to make a final prediction on who will finish as the biggest point producer this year. Panarin, Zibanejad, and Fox are all elite point scorers, and they shine in different aspects of hockey. When factoring everything in, it seems as if Panarin may have a slight edge.

Outside of past success, Panarin has a lot of pressure to succeed this year. A disappointing playoff showing last season has had fans outraged by his performance, giving him motivation to play above and beyond this year.

This pressure will either devastate Panarin’s confidence or propel him to that long-awaited 100-point season. The race will certainly be close, but for now, the odds are in Panarin’s favor.