Early Rangers candidates for 2023-24 Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award

Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers are in the homestretch of the 2023-24 regular season with 16 games remaining. In what has been an outstanding season, so far, for the Blueshirts, there are several early candidates for the prestigious Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award.

This award is the highest honor given to a Rangers player. It is chosen annually by fans and is presented to the Rangers player who “goes above and beyond the call of duty.”  The winner is presented a $25,000 check (in the player’s name) made out to the Steven McDonald Foundation. The Extra Effort Award has been presented since the 1987-1988 season.

Steven McDonald, a New York City Police Detective, was a lifelong Rangers fan. He was shot and injured in the line of duty July 12, 1986. He was courageous in his recovery and always made an appearance to announce the winner at Madison Square Garden. He passed away on January 10, 2017.

Ryan Lindgren received the honor last season. Players awarded multiple times include Adam Graves (5) Ryan Callahan (4), and Mats Zuccarello (3).

Related: Rangers legend Mark Messier ‘all in’ on Matt Rempe

Early Rangers candidates for 2023-24 Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award

NHL: Stadium Series-New York Rangers at New York Islanders
Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Vincent Trocheck

In his second season in New York, Trocheck has been one of the Rangers top players and a worthy All-Star. Moving up to replace the injured Filip Chytil, Trocheck centers New York’s most productive line with Artemi Panarin and Alexis LafreniĆ©re and could eclipse his NHL career high of 75 points. In 65 games, the 30-year-old has tallied 24 goals along with 38 assists for 62 points.

Trocheck is a staple on both the power play and penalty kill. He exemplifies the extra effort award in that he is tenacious in all three zones, a presence on offense and defense, who brings equal amounts skill and grit to the Rangers lineup.

Artemi Panarin

Panarin is a Hart Trophy candidate for his elite level of play this season. He’s already established a new NHL career high with 36 goals and likely will surpass 100 points for the first time in his career.

A true driver on offense, Panarin knew that he had to have a bounce-back season. Despite scoring 92 points last season, Panarin had limited impact in the playoffs. He was extremely hard on himself and used this fuel to have a terrific, and consistent, season so far. He also took it upon himself to shoot more, which is best for the team if contrary to his nature. This change in approach has paid off for the first-place Blueshirts and the star forward.

While his offensive abilities are evident, Panarin has improved his defensive game, too. His extra effort in this area of his game speaks to his drive and candidacy for this specific award.

Igor Shesterkin

Shesterkin faced quite a bit of adversity this season and has come out of it to play some of his best hockey for the Rangers the past month or so.

The goalie was outplayed by Jonathan Quick earlier in the season and also missed games due to injury. Shesterkin also had a rough month of January. But instead of hanging his head, Shesterkin went to work with goalie guru Benoit Allaire and fought his way back.

Under .900 at the All-Star break, Shesterkin’s save percentage is now .912. Since Feb.9, Shesterkin is 9-2-1 with three shutouts and even one assist. In a 1-0 win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday, he was outstanding making several key saves in his second straight shutout. The swag is back and Shesterkin is again positionally sound, often leaving the opposition with nothing to shoot at.

Shesterkin showed terrific mental toughness to get his game back on track in the middle of the season and is a worthy candidate for the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award.

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