Rangers superstar snubbed for Hart Trophy as NHL MVP

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

Despite having one of the elite individual seasons in New York Rangers history, Artemi Panarin is not a finalist for the Hart Trophy, given to the NHL most valuable player, in 2023-24.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon and Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid were named the three finalists for the award on Tuesday. They were the three leading scorers in the NHL.

Panarin finished fourth in scoring with an NHL career-high 120 points, second most in Rangers history. The 32-year-old scored 49 goals, blowing away his previous high of 32, and also had a career-best 11 power-play goals and 44 power-play points.

The “Breadman” was clutch and consistent this season, finishing 43 points ahead of New York’s next best scorer, center Vincent Trocheck, who had 77 points. Trocheck and Alexis Lafreniere (57 points) each thrived playing virtually the entire season on a line with Panarin. Both Trocheck and Lafreniere established new NHL career highs in points this season.

Panarin had three hat tricks and 34 multiple-point games, including five points against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 16. He scored at least one point in each of the first 15 games this season, establishing a Rangers point-scoring streak from the season’s start.

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Artemi Panarin not a finalist for Hart Trophy despite great Rangers season

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at New York Rangers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Panarin was a Hart Trophy finalist once before, in 2019-20, when Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl won the award. He had 95 points (32 goals, 63 assists) in 69 games for the Rangers that season, when the schedule was reduced because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The slick forward also won the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year in 2015-16 when he played for the Chicago Blackhawks.

The snub this season stands out because Panarin was as dominant as could be, helping lead the Rangers to the Presidents’ Trophy. However, Kucherov (144 points), MacKinnon (140 points) and McDavid (132 points) each had a great season and led their respective teams to the Stanley Cup Playoffs too. Kucherov and McDavid also had 100 assists this season, becoming the fourth and fifth different players in League history to do so.

In a year when the Rangers set franchise records for wins (55) and points (114), they do not have a finalist for any major postseason award. Peter Laviolette was bypassed for the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year. Rick Bowness (Winnipeg Jets), Andrew Brunette (Nashville Predators) and Rick Tocchet (Vancouver Canucks) are the finalists for that award.

Perhaps if Adam Fox had not missed 10 games with an injury this season, he would’ve received more consideration for the Norris Trophy as top defenseman. Quinn Hughes (Vancouver Canucks), Roman Josi (Predators) and Cale Makar (Avalanche) are the finalists.

Of course, the Rangers will tell you that the only trophy they want is the Stanley Cup. And they’re on their way as serious contenders, winning their first five postseason games, so far, with Panarin scoring three game winners.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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