OTTAWA, ON - NOVEMBER 22: Artemi Panarin #10 of the New York Rangers looks on in a game against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on November 22, 2019 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
(Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

In his first year with the New York Rangers, Artemi Panarin could wind up hoisting the Hart Trophy, given to the NHL’s league MVP.

The New York Rangers made a big push to sign Artemi Panarin this past offseason and it’s already paying off. The dynamic winger is among the finalists for the Hart Trophy, joining Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers and Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche.

In 69 games, Panarin notched 95 points on 32 goals and 63 assists. With 24 of those 95 points coming on the man-advantage, it’s clear that Panarin is a major threat for the Rangers on the powerplay.

In a Twitter thread from NYR Stats & Info, a strong case is made for Panarin. The Russian winger led the NHL in even-strength points (71), even-strength assists (46), five-on-five points (59), and five-on-five assists (38).

Panarin helped transform New York from a rebuilding squad to a contender to make the playoffs. Prior to the coronavirus shutdown, the Rangers were surging towards a playoff spot on the backs of Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, and Igor Shesterkin. Luckily, the NHL expanded the Stanley Cup Playoffs to 24 teams so the playoff push was not in vain.

With all that said, Draisaitl and MacKinnon have had Hart-worthy seasons as well. Draisaitl leads the league with 110 points, 67 assists, and 10 game-winning goals. MacKinnon, on the other hand, is on the ballot for putting the Avalanche on his back. He led the team with 93 points, 43 more than the next guy on the roster.

Panarin, Draisaitl, and MacKinnon are all worthy choices for the Hart, but New Yorkers are hoping for Panarin’s first season on Broadway to result in some hardware.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.