Rangers: Why Artemi Panarin is the clear favorite for league MVP

New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) waits for a face off against the Nashville Predators during the second period at Bridgestone Arena
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have continued their excellent play to begin the year with a narrow victory over the San Jose Sharks. This win, as well as many others from earlier in the season, can be attributed to the elite personal success of superstar Artemi Panarin.

Panarin has easily been the Blueshirts’ best player through the first 23 games of the season. He seems to have made a full comeback from his 2022-23 playoff slump and has even improved beyond his past success. Panarin is the clear favorite for the Rangers’ MVP this year, and he’s also making a strong case for league MVP with his recent play.

Panarin is scoring at an elite level this season

In the first 23 games of the year, Panarin has recorded 15 goals and 20 assists for a total of 35 points so far. This puts him at pace for 53 goals and 124 points if he were to play the full 82 games, both statistics being new career highs by a large margin.

Panarin currently ranks fourth in the NHL in point totals. He’s sitting just one point behind David Pastrnak and J.T. Miller who are tied for second, and has played fewer games than all three players ahead of him.

Panarin’s biggest offensive performance came in their most recent win against the San Jose Sharks. The Rangers relied on their star forward to get on the scoresheet, as Panarin posted a hat-trick and one assist in the 6–5 victory. It’s clear that Panarin has bounced back from his offensive woes, and is improving to an even higher level of skill.

The Rangers are reaping the benefits of a defensively skilled Panarin

Panarin has always been an elite offensive point scorer, but his game has always lacked defensively. Throughout his career, he always seemed like a one-trick pony, but that has certainly changed this season.

This year, Panarin is playing a completely different style of hockey. His defensive awareness has significantly improved, and he’s forechecking like never before. This change is due to the implementation of HC Peter Laviolette’s new defensive system, and Panarin has been the one to reap the benefits of this alteration the most.

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Who else but Panarin?

While Panarin has been dominant in the first quarter of the season, many other players are making cases for league MVP around the NHL. Pastrnak, Quinn Hughes, and Nikita Kucherov all should have their names thrown in the mix, but none of them compare to what Panarin is providing for his team.

To have Panarin contribute in practically every aspect of the game is not seen by any other player around the NHL. His impact on the Rangers is what’s led to the overwhelming success of the team, and he appears to be the clear favorite to win the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s MVP.