What the New York Rangers should expect from Mika Zibanejad in 2021

This season, New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad put up career-high numbers in goals and points. In a season that was cut short for the star player by both a pandemic and a major injury, the star player managed to score forty-one goals and tally seventy-five points in just fifty-seven games.

Zibanejad led the league in average goals per game and was the first Rangers player to hit the forty goal mark since Rick Nash in the 2015-2016 season. It’s pretty clear that Zibanejad has what it takes to be the leading center on the rising New York Rangers, but what else should fans expect from him?

Mika Zibanejad, since being traded to the Rangers in the summer of 2016, has proven to exemplify fantastic leadership abilities. Since the 2018-2019 season, Zibanejad has worn an “A” on his jersey, signifying that he is one of four alternate captains for the team.

Since the Rangers don’t have a captain right now, Zibanejad, Marc Staal, Chris Kreider, and Jesper Fast carry the responsibility of team leadership on their backs. Earlier this season, the Rangers were expected to announce their new captain right before their season opener, but eventually opted to keep their four alternates for one more year. It is likely that the new captain will be named sometime before next season starts, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Mika Zibanejad wearing the C. As a young reliable player who seems to have reached his prime, he would be the perfect choice to lead this team of young stars to future victories. While it isn’t set in stone that he’ll be the choice for captaincy, don’t be surprised if we end up seeing it happen. 

For the past couple of seasons, Rangers fans constantly questioned if Zibanejad would be good enough to be a quality number one center for the team. But after this year, it’s clear that he has what it takes. The only question is now, will he be able to recreate this year’s success in future seasons. It isn’t uncommon for players to regress after having stellar seasons. One great example of this from recent seasons is Buffalo Sabres forward Jeff Skinner.

In 2019, Skinner put up a career-high forty goals during his first season with the team. After that fantastic season, he signed a new contract for $72 million over eight years. The Sabres had high hopes for him, but this season he only managed to score fourteen goals. Buffalo knows what it’s like to have a star player one season turn into a mediocre player the next, and that is what fans of the New York Rangers are scared of now. 

While it is probable that Zibanejad may have hit his peak this season, we shouldn’t expect him to dip very much next year, if at all. Zibanejad is only twenty-seven years old, having just entered his prime years of hockey. He also plays for the Rangers, a team that is still young and acquiring key pieces for their future. It is likely that he will be playing alongside Chris Kreider and Alexis Lafreniere this season, so fans should expect similar numbers from Zibanejad. 

This is all speculation, of course, as the only way to truly know how Mika Zibanejad will perform is to watch him play next season. New York Rangers fans should definitely expect big things from their top center, though. Whether it be captaincy, more career-high statistics, or the opportunity to play with this year’s number one draft pick, it’ll be interesting to see what top center Mika Zibanejad has to offer. The future is bright for the New York Rangers, and Zibanejad is a big part of that.

 

Who the New York Rangers could target with the 1st overall pick

Alexis Lafrenière

With a stunning turn of events that seemed near impossible to New York Rangers fans, their team has ended up receiving the first overall pick in the 2020 NHL draft. When the league was put on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 9th, the Rangers had a 0.8% chance of receiving the first pick in the draft.

However, after lucking out through the NHL’s unique return to play plan, the Rangers were able to get some of their young stars a bit of playoff experience and increase their chances of winning the draft lottery to 12.5%, which worked out perfectly for them. But now that a week has gone by since the lottery, it is time to stop celebrating and figure out what the Rangers should do. 

Their first option is definitely the most obvious, and probably the one that would make the most sense. For a while now, NHL scouts have all been in agreement that the top-rated prospect in this year’s draft pool is the Canadian winger Alexis Lafreniere.

Despite only being eighteen years old, Lafreniere stands at 6’1” and provides a strong physical presence on the ice. His offensive awareness is comparable to players such as Sidney Crosby, who has been dominating the league for over a decade now. Last season in the QMJHL, Lafreniere led the league by putting up a whopping 112 points through only 52 games. It’s safe to say that he is definitely the most skilled player in this year’s draft, and he would be a perfect fit on the New York Rangers. There is only one reason that I could see the Rangers drafting anyone but him- his position.

It would be a very bold move, but there could be a very small chance that the Rangers decide to use their first overall pick to draft a center, Quinton Byfield. When it comes to the wingers on the Rangers, they already have a solid top 4.

With superstar Artemi Panarin leading the bunch, and other great players such as Chris Kreider, Pavel Buchnevich, and last year’s second overall pick Kaapo Kakko, the only spot to really put Alexis Lafreniere in his rookie season would be the third line. It obviously wouldn’t hurt to continue strengthening your winger core, but there are other positions on the Rangers that require more depth. More specifically, the centers. 

Mika Zibanejad has served as a great first-line center for the Rangers since being traded from Ottawa in July of 2016. But outside of him, the team lacks a center that is qualified to play on at least the second line. Ryan Strome filled that gap last year, and while he put up career-high numbers, he still should be a third-line center at best. Filip Chytil has potential to be great, but he is still too young and too underdeveloped to tell what kind of player he will grow into.

The point is, the Rangers need a solid second-line center on their team. That’s where the number two rated prospect in this year’s draft pool comes in. Quinton Byfield. Comparable to players such as LA Kings star Anze Kopitar, Byfield is a large impactful player that plays a 200-foot game. His competitiveness is unmatched, and he is determined to win every game he plays. He has the potential to grow right into that number two center spot on the Rangers, and possibly even take over the role as their top center in a few years. It would definitely help the Rangers a lot to add center depth to their team, but the question is this: Would it be worth giving up drafting Alexis Lafreniere?

The way I see it, the Rangers will not draft anyone that is not Lafrienere or Byfield. After those two players in the draft pool, there is a decent jump in level of potential. The only exception to that may be Tim Stutzle, another center, but if the Rangers were to go that route Byfield is the obvious choice. Many people will say that choosing Byfield over Lafrienere would be a waste of a first overall pick, but there may be a way that the Rangers could acquire a fantastic center and make it worth it. 

The runner ups of this year’s draft lottery were the Los Angeles Kings, acquiring the number two overall pick. Although it would be very risky, one alternative route that the Rangers could go would be to swap picks with the Kings and have LA add in another great prospect. It sounds crazy, but it could work.

The Kings have one of the deepest prospect pools in the entire NHL, so there is a chance that they would be willing to give up a winger to draft an even better one at first overall. If the Kings were to swap picks with the Rangers to move up to first overall, one prospect they could throw in would be Arthur Kaliyev. He is a right-winger that was drafted 33rd overall in 2019 and has shown a lot of potential. If the Kings were against this trade, the Rangers could even throw in their other late first-round pick to even the trade a little bit more. It’s not likely to happen, but if it did, the Rangers could walk away from this year’s draft with elite center Quinton Byfield and top prospect Arthur Kaliyev. 

With all of that speculation out of the way, still, the best route the Rangers could take would be to keep their first overall pick and draft Alexis Lafreniere. There are many options for the team to choose on, but choosing the star winger at number one makes the most sense.

The Rangers are going to need center depth at some point if they intend on becoming an elite team within the next few years, but this year might not be the time to do it. As of right now, the draft is scheduled to start on October 9th, but that is subject to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The only thing Rangers fans can do is wait and hope to see their team make a smart decision. Having the ability to shape your team’s future with a number one overall pick doesn’t happen often, so let’s hope that the New York Rangers make the most of it.  

 

 

 

The next great possible New York rivalry could be soon, and no it’s not a team one

Sam Darnold versus Daniel Jones. Aaron Judge versus Pete Alonso. Jacob deGrom versus Gerrit Cole.

If you’re sensing a theme here, you know exactly where this is heading.

Hockey has and probably will always be the fourth sport in the metropolitan area. Even with three teams all within a short drive of each other, the rivalries have taken a backseat for too long. But if all goes according to plan, two guys — the Islanders’ Ilya Sorokin and Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin — have the chance to make for one of the most entertaining and interesting rivalries very soon.

The Isles were finally able to sign Sorokin on Monday after a long, six-year wait. As for Shesterkin, he’s gearing up for the postseason as the Blueshirts’ presumed starter after he went 10-2-0 as a rookie in his 12 games played before the coronavirus pandemic took hold of the NHL. And while the first Ilya vs Igor showdown might not come until next season, it’s refreshing to know the two are now a part of their respective organizations. Just the fact they’re both here has Islander and Rangers fans salivating at the perspective of these two duking it out for the next decade.

Sorokin and Shesterkin’s relationship goes all the back to when they met as 17-year-olds in their native Russia.

The two phenoms fought for goalie supremacy as a part of KHL powerhouses and rivals themselves, CSKA Moscow and SKA St. Petersburg. Both were selected in the 2014 entry draft — Sorokin 78th overall and Shesterkin 40 picks later at 118. In addition, both were members of the same gold-medal winning squad for Russia at the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.

So as you can tell, these guys are special, not just individually, but as a duo. Off the ice, their friendship has made for some very entertaining bits on social mediaBut it’s on the ice though where the two bring out the best in each other.

Shesterkin joked with KHL reporter Igor Eronko back in April when Sorokin made his intentions to come to the Isles, saying he was looking forward to a rivalry with Ilya to learn who’s the king of New York and they regularly play NHL20 as the Isles and Rangers respectively.

Is there any more evidence needed to tell these guys are going to own this town?

The hype for them is elevated even more because of the Islanders and Rangers — rivals and in the same division, let alone same market — are both trending in a positive direction for the future. Both teams are poised to be contenders for the next several years, and Sorokin and Shesterkin are an internal part of that.

It sucks that Sorokin probably won’t be joining the Islanders in time for when they square off with the Rangers in their exhibition game a week and a half from now. We could have gotten a sneak preview of what might be coming starting next year. But it’ll have to wait for the appropriate time, hopefully in front of 15,000 inside Nassau Coliseum or 18,000 at Madison Square Garden.

The New York sports scene is loaded with young stars. Ilya Sorokin and Igor Shesterkin are next in line.

They are ready to hopefully rule New York and begin the area’s next great era of hockey.

James Dolan Does Not Represent New York

New York Knicks, James Dolan

The New York Knicks and New York Rangers owner and the CEO of the legendary Madison Garden James Dolan has always been controversial. Making boneheaded decisions with icons and fans like Charley Oakley and Spike Lee, ruining ties with star players like Kristaps Porzingis, and failures to provide a title from either team since the 90s. This is already enough to say “Wow he is a horrible owner” but that’s not even the end of it. Hiring sexual assaulter Isiah Thomas as a coach, making horrible front office decisions, and the Knicks not winning more than 37.8% of their games in a season since 2013-2014 are also more than disgusting acts as an owner, and his incompetence is well documented. Where I draw the line?

When the entire country is in the midst of a movement to end the killings of innocent African American lives and you don’t even feel as if you should use your power as a wealthy powerful white man to at least make a statement.

In a letter by James Dolan released internally was quoted to say “As companies in the business of sports and entertainment, however, we are not any more qualified than anyone else to offer our opinion on social matters. What’s important is how we operate”. This to me is understandable if the Knicks and Rangers or MSG had actually made significant actions in order to support the movement in getting justice for George Floyd.

The issue is that they haven’t, and they’re the only team other than the Spurs to not release a statement, but unlike the Knicks, the Spurs’ legendary HOF-worthy coach Gregg Popovich made a statement about this situation and is part of a committee of coaches that involve former Knicks coach David Fizdale that will help local leaders and communities with this issue. I’m not only as a New Yorker and person of color disgusted and dumbfounded by Dolan’s refusal to use his platform to aid this cause but utterly baffled.

I do not believe forcing people into political activism is a good thing, even for a great cause because we each should have individual liberties. That doesn’t mean if you see the city and state you have such influence in trying to fight against injustice that you just sit there and refuse to do anything. You have players on the Knicks reportedly outraged, you have other owners releasing statements and having people aware, and all you have done is say you’re not “qualified” to have opinions on this matter. If you’re not “qualified” to have opinions on one of the most pivotal moments in American history, then you’re not qualified to own a team in New York.

As New Yorkers and as a content creator with a platform, unlike Dolan, I’d like to use this platform to advocate for those who are protesting and condemn the minority that are destroying things for personal gain. I’d also like to provide links for a GoFundMe for David McAtee’s family, as he was an African American man wrongly killed by police during the protests, a GoFundMe for George Floyd’s family, a man killed by disgusting men who abused their power as cops, and a link to a Change.Org petition get the degree of murder on the man who killed George Floyd raised.

As New Yorkers or Americans (for all my non-NY readers), let’s make the change we want to see in our country, unlike James Dolan, even if we don’t have the money or power he does. While all lives do equally matter to me, right now black ones are at risk due to these killings. Let’s make sure we do everything we can to help African Americans feel like they know their lives and their voices matter and are heard.

NHL concludes season, Rangers are in the playoffs

New York Rangers

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the 2019-’20 regular season has officially concluded, the Stanley Cup Playoffs will consist of 24 teams with the New York Rangers getting a shot to play for the Stanley Cup.

The National Hockey League announced its Return to Play plan on Tuesday afternoon. The regular season has been officially declared completed and the league will jump right into the NHL Playoffs with a 24-team format to include the New York Rangers.

The Rangers were the hottest team in the league when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the NHL to pause the regular season on Mar. 12. The Blueshirts were two points away from a wild card spot with doubts if they would get an opportunity to complete the season or qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2017.

The tournament will begin with a 16-team, eight-series Qualifying Round, and a “Seeding Round Robin” among the top four teams in each conference to determine seeds for the first-round.

Bettman’s statement:

Commissioner Bettman was highlighted by the statement that the league is looking to award the Stanley Cup because the fans want to see a conclusion to the season.

“Let me assure you that the reason we are doing this because our fans have told us in overwhelming numbers that they want to complete the season if at all possible. And our players and our teams are clear that they want to play and bring the season to its rightful conclusion,” NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti reported.

The Qualifying Round and the Seeding Round robin will be held at two hub cities which have not been decided as of yet. One for the 12 Eastern Conference teams and one for the Western Conference teams. Locations being considered to include Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Vancouver.

The Rangers to play Carolina

The top four teams in the Eastern Conference are the Boston Bruins (44-14-12, 100 points), Tampa Bay Lightning (43-21-6, 92 points), Washington Capitals (41-20-8, 90 points) and Philadelphia Flyers (41-21-7, 89 points).

The Rangers will play the Carolina Hurricanes in a best of five series. The other play-in games will be Pittsburgh Penguins vs. the Montreal Canadiens, the New York Islanders vs. the Florida Panthers and the Toronto Maple Leafs vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Following the conclusion of the Qualifying Rounds, the conference based playoffs will continue in the same hub cities. It remains unclear if the first-round series will set through seeding or bracketing.

Games in the qualifying round will be played with playoff overtime rules. The round-robin games will be played with regular-season overtime and shootout rules with ties in the standings broken by regular-season points percentage.

What’s next?

Phase 2 is expected to begin in early June. The will allow clubs to return to home facilities for voluntary, small-group, on and off the ice training.

Phase 3- It would be a formal training camp that is not expected to occur before July 1. This is good news for the Blueshirts as some of the star players are currently overseas. Henrik Lundqvist, Kaapo Kakko, and Mika Zibanejad are a few players who returned home when the NHL pause was put in place.

These players would most likely have to be placed in a 14-quarantine when they arrive back in New York. The phase three-date allows these players along with all players in the league not currently in the United States time to come back home.

Time is of no issue with the leagues understanding that fans would not be allowed in the stands for the foreseeable future.

Bettman intends to play a full 2020-’21 season and is willing to wait until December or January 2021 before beginning the new season.

David Quinn has plenty to do

David Quinn can check one thing off his bucket list. He has made the playoffs in his second year behind the bench. Now comes the hard part.

Let’s address the elephant in the room right now. Will it be Henrik Lundqvist or Igor Shesterkin to start in goal for the play-in series. Hank is 25-5 against Carolina since 2011. Rookie Shesterkin was named the number one starter in February and won 10 of his first 12 games to start his NHL career.

Chris Kreider has fully recovered from his injury suffered right after the trade deadline. Quinn now has to get him back to where he was prior to the injury where he scored 24 goals. A playoff driven Kreider could cause the Hurricanes plenty of trouble in a five-game series.

Pavel Buchnevich was involved in a car accident along with Igor Shesterkin and though he wasn’t injured physically, he was pretty shaken up and never found his game right up until the pause. The Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Buchnevich line has been one of the best over the last few years, the club needs Buch at his best.

The younglings will now get their moment to shine in a national way. Adam Fox, Ryan Lindgren, Filip Chytil, Brett Howden, Alexandar Georgiev, and Kaako Kappo will get a taste of playoff hockey for the first time. The game changes dramatically in playoff time, cant wait to see what these guys will bring to the table when it matters most.

Artemi Panarin and Zibanejad together on the same team in the playoffs. Not much else can be said about that. The scoring and plain out fun watching these two play will be worth the price of admission (if fans were allowed).

On a down note, whenever the playoffs begin Brendan Lemieux will be watching from the press box. Lemieux had a hearing with the NHL Player Safety Department after a hit Colorado Avalanches’ Joonas Donskoi. The NHL didn’t announce the result of the hearing, but it’s expected he will sit a few games when the league resumes.

Rangers playoff hockey back. Well its almost back, but when the league resumes games, the Blueshirts will be playing hockey and that’s what matters most in Rangerstown.

Report: NHL has Target Date for New York Rangers to Enter Re-opening Phase 2

New York Rangers

According to TSN‘s Pierre LeBrun, The NHL and NHLPA sent out a 29-page Phase 2 protocol memo to the New York Rangers and other teams late on Sunday. The memo details the plan to reopen team facilities and allow small group workouts.

This comes on the heels of a recent announcement by New York State governor Andrew Cuomo that allows New York state sports teams to conduct practices and training in their facilities. ESM covered this in more detail in an article you can find here.

Phase 2 will allow a maximum of six players in a practice facility at one time, and no coaches or personnel will be permitted on the ice with them, according to LeBrun. He also added that players would need to wear face coverings at all times, except when exercising or on the ice, upon entering or leaving the facility and while inside where social distancing cannot be maintained.

The memo outlines how teams can safely return to practice facilities, and the protocols players and staff must follow to do so. LeBrun added that participation during this phase is strictly voluntary, and players outside of their home cities are not yet required to return. The memo also states that based on the current information available, the NHL is now targeting a date in early June for a transition to Phase 2. This will give the New York Rangers time to determine where they want to train and provide players with guidance on how and when to return.

LeBrun also says that when it comes to testing players and staff during Phase 2, the NHL will do so as long as tests are available. he also wrote that the memo also stated:

“As an over-riding principle, testing of asymptomatic players and club personnel must be done in the context of excess testing capacity, so as to not deprive health care workers, vulnerable populations, and symptomatic individuals from necessary diagnostic tests.”

There were no mentions of Phase 3 (training camp) and Phase 4 (return to play) in the memo, but this is a positive sign for the New York Rangers and their fans that hockey will return at some point in the near future.

 

 

Report: Players Will Approve Tournament that Includes the New York Rangers

New York Rangers

The National Hockey League Players’ Association’s Executive Board is expected to approve a 24-team Return to Play proposal put forth by the NHL according to TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie. At the time of his report, McKenzie indicated that he was informed that the vote was finished, or close to finished and that the players will approve the 24-team format. This format would include the New York Rangers.

The New York Rangers should be in the play-in round

The most recent reports on the return to play format have the teams seeded one through 12, based on points percentage. That would put the Rangers as the eleventh seed, where they would face the Carolina Panthers. Dates, times, and places would not be immediately known, as the league is still working on where these games would be played, most likely in some kind of hub community. It is also not known if the higher seeds would get some kind of built-in advantage, like being awarded a game in the best of five series. Some teams and players have stated that higher seeds should get some kind of advantage in this expanded format.

This may have been why McKenzie stated on Thursday that the NHLPA executive committee conference call got “a little heated at times” and various individual players still have a wide variety of views on the NHL’s Return to Play proposal. However, his sources indicated that at least 18 of the 31 representatives would vote in favor of the proposal, the minimum number needed for approval.

The league is also considering several hub cities as an option to resume play in a centralized manner but has repeatedly said they are not close to determining what locations will be used. The league will have to monitor what local, state, province, and even national governments say about what can be done. One of the biggest barriers, for example, is the 14-day quarantine that is in effect for any person that enters Canada.

This former New York Ranger Gets an Assist in Helping to Start a Trend

New York Rangers

Many New York Ranger fans are familiar with Andy Bathgate who played 10 seasons with the Blueshirts from 1954 to 1963. Unfortunately, Bathgate was frustrated with the poor play of the Rangers during this time and was traded to Toronto during the 1963-64 season and promptly helped them win the Stanley Cup. But it was something that he did in a game that helped start a trend in hockey that continues to this day.

Bathgate had quite a reputation for having an extremely hard slap shot and that was made evident during a game on November 1, 1959, in a game against the Montreal Canadiens. In the first period, Canadiens goaltender Jacques Plante was struck in the face by a shot from Bathgate that required the Canadians netminder to receive some stitches. During the period in the NHL, goaltenders did not wear masks, leaving their heads open to injury. After being stitched up, Plante insisted that he wear a mask, something that he had done during practice but not in a game. Montreal head coach Toe Blake initially refused to allow him to wear it in a game, fearing it would inhibit his vision. Plante told Blake that he refused to play unless he could wear the fiberglass mask. Faced with a decision of letting his goalie wear a mask or try to scrape a goalie out of the stands. At that time, NHL teams did not employ back up goalies. Faced with the choice of letting his goals wear a mask, or the use the EBUG as we now know it, Blake let Plante play with the mask. Plante continued wearing a mask for the rest of his career, starting a trend that continues to this day, with the assist going to Andy Bathgate.

Of course, Bathgate is known for more than his hard slap shot leading to a change in goalie decor. In 2017 Bathgate was named one of the “100 Greatest NHL Players”. During his time with the Rangers, he was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy for the MVP of the NHL in 1958–59 after scoring 40 goals, which was a great accomplishment during that period of NHL hockey. The Rangers retired his #9 along with Harry Howell’s #3 in a special ceremony before on February 22, 2009. Bathgate joined Adam Graves, whose number 9 had been hoisted to the MSG rafters 19 nights earlier. Graves has been quoted as saying that Bathgate is “the greatest Ranger to ever wear the number 9”.

New York Rangers legends John Davidson and Mike Richter featured on MSG Network

New York Rangers, Mike Richter

Former New York Rangers goaltenders Mike Richter and John Davidson will be guests on MSG Networks “MSG 150 at Home” on Wednesday night.

As part of “Goalie Week”, Madison Square Garden Network will have a roundtable discussion hosted by Steve Valiquette. Richter and J.D. will share some of the fondest memories of their time wearing the famous Rangers sweater. From NHL debuts and rookie seasons, players they looked up to growing up, staying connected to others during this pause, and more.

John Davidson

Davidson talked about the time when he was traded to the Rangers in June 1975.

“My second year I played so well that I got traded to the Rangers after the season. And that was the best thing that happened to me. Aside from my family, that was the best thing that ever happened to me. I was blown away when I got to New York. I had never seen anything like this. Madison Square Garden, New York City, the busy streets, oh baby. It was quite something.”

Davidson was part of the great team that made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in. 1979 where they lost the series to Ken Dryden and the Montreal Canadiens.

The president of the Blueshirts also talked about the current team and how he has been staying connected with the scouting staff and some of the prospects thanks to platforms look Zoom.

Mike Richter

Stanley Cup Champion Mike Richter was asked about his NHL playoff debut during the 1989 playoffs.

“It was good to get the opportunity to play. I’m indebted to Phil Esposito who gave me it. I didn’t expect that I was necessarily going to get in there. I didn’t expect it. I was so thrilled and excited. I had so much energy.”

Esposito was the Rangers General manager at the time but was fired following the team’s elimination for the playoffs in May 1989.

Richter also spoke of the players he looked up to in the NHL, namely Eddie Giacomin. Richters idol was the team’s goalie coach when he was called up to the Rangers.

Two of the last three goalies to reach the Stankey Cup Finals in the last 41 years (Henrik Lundqvist was the third) talk about the great memories playing for this original six franchise.

The show will air Wednesday night at 5:00 p.m. an again at 7:30 p.m.

New York Rangers’ Artemi Panarin nominated for ‘NHL Fan Choice Award’

New York Rangers, Artemi Panarin

The National Hockey League announced it’s nominees for the “Fan Choice Awards” and New York Rangers superstar Artemi Panarin was nominated for Best Celly.

Artemi Panarin had to expect to hear his name mentioned for some NHL hardware after he signed with the New York Rangers last summer. I am not sure the Best Celly Fan Award was what he had in mind but it is something to talk about during hockey’s downtime.

The NHL has created 20 different categories for fans to choose from. There is a large range of different topics, from best team dog, the goal of the year, best dressed, funniest player, save of the year, and my favorite best pregame ritual.

Fans can head over to www.nhl.com/fans/nhl-fan-choice-awards and pick who they would like to see win with voting ending on June 1.

Panarin has some good company in his category. Buffalo Sabers jack Eichel, the Carolina Hurricanes, and Panarin’s former team the Columbus Blue Jackets.

These are all good choices but none are as comparable as the Breadman’s leg kick which has been measured as high as 5.9 feet.

Panarin has been in the Hart Trophy conversation recently. The trophy is awarded to the league’s most valuable player, an accolade that he deserves based on what he has accomplished this season for the Blueshirts. This season Rangers fans have seen plenty of cellies with the Breadman finding the back of the net 32 times along with 95 points.