Artemi Panarin hits the mark! Looking back at bold Rangers’ predictions

NHL: New York Islanders at New York Rangers
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Every year, experts and prognosticators make predictions. Way back in October, I made one bold prediction for each player on the New York Rangers to start the season. At the time, the Blueshirts entered the 2023-24 campaign with a 22-man roster. Obviously, there will be some players that were called up or traded for afterwards that are not going to appear on this list.

In assessing these predictions, I’ll apply the scoring method used in the game of horseshoe. A ringer is a spot-on hit. A leaner means it was close, and the rest qualify as a miss.

Let’s quickly look back at this season’s bold prediction.

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NHL: Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

All in all, 23 bold predictions were made with three of them hitting the mark in my book. Another nine were close enough to be considered leaners. As for the misses, there were nine with some going “just a bit outside” according to the great Bob Uecker. Finally, there are two horseshoes that haven’t been thrown yet and we’ll just have to wait to see how they turn out.

Ringers (3)

#10 Artemi Panarin: It’s been a few seasons of flirting with 100 points, but the Rangers best offensive player will get it done in 2023-24. (Panarin shattered this one by scoring 120 points)

#50 Will Cuylle: After making the team, this rookie will become an absolute favorite of coach Laviolette, who sees Cuylle as a Tom Wilson type player. While some think Cuylle may be sent down at some point this season, I see him being a permanent fixture that will score close to 20 goals. (Cuylle played 81 games, scored 13 goals and piled up 249 hits)

#71 Tyler Pitlick: At some point, Pitlick may find himself on waivers in favor of Brennan Othmann. (Pitlick was placed on waivers in February)

Leaners (9)

#4 Braden Schneider: The team’s top four defensemen can make some easily overlook this youngster entering his third NHL season. At just 22 years-old, he plays like a seasoned veteran, and after picking up 18 points last year, he’ll notch 25 in 2023-24. (Schneider did score more than last season, with 19 points)

#13: Alexis Lafreniere: Of all the predictions, this is the hardest. One bold prediction is he could be traded at the deadline. Another is that Lafreniere finally explodes and scores 30 goals and 60 points. Right now, I’d go with the former. (Thankfully, trade talk ended early and Lafreniere posted 57 points with 28 goals)

#16: Vincent Trocheck: It looks like the veteran may start out centering the third line with rookie Will Cuylle and veteran Blake Wheeler, however, he will hit the 30 goal mark for just the second time in his career. (What a season for Trocheck, who scored 25 goals and 77 points)

#23 Adam Fox: A perennial Norris Trophy candidate, he’ll set a career high in points this season with 83. (An injury prevented Fox from this being a ringer, as he scored 73 points in 72 games)

#31 Igor Shesterkin: The Rangers netminder will be in the Vezina conversation again, but this will be the season he wins 40+. My bold prediction is he sets the franchise single-season mark for wins, besting Mike Richter’s 42 set in 1993-94. (36 wins isn’t too shabby)

#32 Jonathan Quick: The veteran backup will struggle out of the gate leading to the Rangers leaning on Shesterkin a lot more early. However, he will bounce back after the All-Star break to help the team fight for first place in the Metro. (Quick never struggled, but he did help the Rangers win the Metro)

#55 Ryan Lindgren: Last season, I predicted Lindgren would lead the team in the plus/minus category with at least a +32. Well, he did lead the team, but with a +29. He will do so again. However, my prediction is the Rangers will extend him mid-season for at least 5-6 years. (Guess who led the team again in +/-? Lindgren at +22. I believe an extension is coming)

#56 Erik Gustafsson: Already well liked by his coach, Gustafsson will cement himself as the Rangers 6th d-man and earn a contract extension after Jones is traded. (He has been Laviolette’s go-to-guy at the 6 spot)

#78 Brennan Othmann: The highly touted prospect will start so strong in the AHL for the Hartford Wolf Pack, that he will earn a call up before Thanksgiving. (Othmann was called up, but after Thanksgiving)

Misses (9)

#6 Zac Jones: The Rangers will wait to see how Erik Gustafsson performs in the first two months of the season, but a trade is likely before the NHL Trade Deadline on March 8, 2024. (Happy to be wrong here as Jones shows great promise)

#8 Jacob Trouba: The team’s captain may see a production dip from last year’s 30 points due to less power play time, but will lead the team in hits with over 230. (Trouba did dip to 22 points, but finished second on the team in hits with 191)

#12 Nick Bonino: The Rangers finally have their shutdown fourth-line checking center, who will crack the 10+ goal mark for just the third time in his 11 year career. (Rangers waived Bonino in February)

#17 Blake Wheeler: The 37 year-old veteran’s better days are behind him, but he will post another 50+ point season. (Wheeler suffered a season ending injury and finished with 21 points in 54 games)

#24 Kaapo Kakko: There’s no reason for Kakko not to be successful, especially if Peter Laviolette keeps him on the first line. A 25 goals, 50+ points campaign may actually be a low prediction. (Big miss! Kakko scored just 13 goals and 19 points)

#26 Jimmy Vesey: The Rangers loved what Vesey brought to the team last season, but with the emergence of Cuylle, he’ll have a reduced role. My prediction here is that Vesey will platoon with Tyler Pitlick on the fourth-line. (Vesey continues to be an invaluable bottom-six forward)

#72 Filip Chytil: Here we go, the boldest prediction yet. Chytil will score 40 goals and 70 points this season. (Unfortunately a miss due to a serious injury that limited him to just 10 games)

#79 K’Andre Miller: After a career year registering 43 points, Miller will be the first Rangers defenseman to score 20 goals since Brian Leetch notched 21 in 2000-2001. (Miller has the skating speed and great shot to do this one day, just not today. He finished with 8 goals and 30 points)

#93 Mika Zibanejad: Same as last year: One of the best defensive forwards in the game is finally recognized and wins the Frank J. Selke Award. (Although he is the Rangers best two-way player, he did not score enough to be considered for the award this season)

Horseshoes That Haven’t Been Thrown Yet (2)

#20 Chris Kreider: Last season, my bold prediction was that he would win the Conn Smythe Trophy in the playoffs. If the Rangers win the Cup, I still feel it will be due to the net-front presence of Kreider, so this one carries over.

#21 Barclay Goodrow: Goodrow is the type of player you need to win Championships. However, with Kaapo Kakko due a new contract this summer, he’ll be traded at the end of the season.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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