Artemi Panarin’s career-year pace a credit to his linemates

NHL: New York Rangers at Seattle Kraken
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Artemi Panarin has undoubtedly been the New York Rangers‘ best player since signing with the club in July of 2019. After voicing his displeasure with his own play following last year’s disappointing first round exit, the Russian forward has been on another level.

Playing with a new sense of determination, Panarin has been shooting the puck at a wild pace, contributing to the career year he is having. Another main contributor has been his linemates, Vincent Trocheck and Alexis Lafreniere.

Related: Vincent Trocheck an All-Star

Artemi Panarin career year a credit to linemates

NHL: Calgary Flames at New York Rangers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

After Filip Chytil’s season was cut short due to injury, Trocheck moved up to fill the second-line center position. Since then, the trio has been one of the best lines in the NHL. While Trocheck and Lafreniere have both benefited from playing with a generational talent, Panarin has also reaped the rewards of being on such a dynamic line.

One milestone Panarin is still in search of is breaking the 100 point ceiling. After setting a career high in points in the 2021-22 season with 96, he came close once again last season with 92. This season, he is on pace for 105 points and is currently producing 1.28 points per game. At age 32, it is his most successful season to date.

It is no coincidence that playing among one of the best lines in the NHL has Panarin on pace to set numerous career-highs. Trocheck has been one of New York’s most versatile forwards, and Lafreniere is finally starting to look like the first-overall pick that Rangers’ fans were expecting.

“He’s been a guy that we’ve counted on in a lot of different situations,” said Peter Laviolette on Trocheck. “Face-offs, penalty kill, when we’re up by a goal trying to close out a game. Certainly from an offensive standpoint, the power play. His line has been one of the most effective lines and (Trocheck) is a big part of that. He’s had an excellent year to this point.”

Panarin has often been seen as a guy who can make good players look great. His awareness and play-making ability allows him to set up virtually any player to score. What could be the cause for his increased production this season is that he now has two players alongside him that can carry their own weight.

Perhaps one of the best moves on the Rangers’ roster was the decision to move Lafreniere to the right wing so that he could slot in on the second line with Panarin. It was a move that seemed like a last-ditch effort to spark the play of the former first-overall pick, and it appears to have done just that.

“He’s been excellent”, Laviolette said of Lafreniere. “His line has been excellent. He’s a part of that line. His skill is really on display most nights, the way he handles the puck, the way he creates.”

This is the exact type of personnel that Panarin has needed. With the weight of carrying other players off his shoulders, he has been able to shoot freely, set up Trocheck and Lafreniere, and get set up by them in return.

Panarin’s career high in shots on goal came in the 2017-18 season, when he recorded 228 shots with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Through 53 games, he currently has 201 shots on goal and is projected to hit 311 on the season. To say he has come into the season with a new mindset has been an understatement.

“The line of Panarin, Trocheck, and Lafreniere has been a top line in the league,” explained Laviolette. “They generate a lot of chances for us. They seem to have good chemistry. Panarin and Lafreniere on their off-wings seem to compliment each other when they’re on the ice in the offensive zone and trying to create. Trocheck has done a really good job of kind of anchoring those two players and so it’s been an effective line.”

While Artemi Panarin continues to make his case for the Hart Trophy, given annually to the NHL’s most valuable player, it is important to give a nod to his line mates. Vincent Trocheck and Alexis Lafreniere have done an incredible job up to this point. The three forwards will be an integral part of the Rangers’ line-up as the playoff push continues to heat up.

Dane Walsh is a life-long fan of the New York Rangers. Growing up in the tri-state area, Dane has... More about Dane Walsh

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