It was an up-and-down season for the New York Rangers in 2021. After a rough start, the Rangers would eventually insert themselves into the playoff race. But they faltered down the stretch and ended their season with a 27-23-6 record, finishing 5th in the East Division. Throughout the season, some guys began to emerge, and some guys did what they were projected to do. So let’s take a look at who stuck out the most.
Without any surprise, that guy was Artemi Panarin. His 2nd year with the Rangers was essentially no different than his first. When he was out there, he was always the best guy for the Rangers. When he had to miss time, the difference without him was noticeable.
In just 42 games this season, Panarin was the leading scorer for the Rangers. He had 58 points, 17 being goals, and 41 being assists.
When he missed an extended time due to the Russian Government, it showed how much of a difference-maker this guy is. Once he came back he instantly made an impact. It would’ve been fun to see his numbers had he played all 56 games for the Rangers.
I could say I considered 3 guys for this award, but it is pretty obvious who will take this one. That guy is Adam Fox.
He had a very good rookie season in 2019-20, but he absolutely took off this past season for the Rangers. He was great offensively and defensively, and his play made him turn into a Norris candidate.
Fox finished 2nd in the league for defenseman point totals. He had 47 points on 5 goals and 42 assists. He was also a +19, showing that he could do it on both sides of the game. Fox was clearly the best defenseman for the Rangers, and as one of the top in the whole league, which is more than enough to give him this award.
For rookie of the year, it also wasn’t a very tough decision. The 3 best rookies for the Rangers were Igor Shesterkin, Alexis Lafreniere, and K’Andre Miller. Although he did play in 12 games last year, he was still considered a rookie, so Igor Shesterkin is the ROTY for the Rangers. he played great in his 12 games last year, and repeated his performance this year. It was tough for him to play with all the injuries that happened in front of him, and had to deal with injuries himself, but he was still great this season.
In 35 games (31 starts) he was 16-14-3 with a .916 SV% and a 2.62 GAA. Before his whole team got hurt at the end of the season, his save percentage was in the .920-.925 range, and his goals-against was around 2.50 or below. He has played outstanding in his young career, and hopefully, he will keep it going with a lot more seasons ahead of him.
The final award is the most improved player. This award was much closer than the previous two. The 3 guys considered were Pavel Buchnevich, Kaapo Kakko, and Filip Chytil. After consideration, the winner is Pavel Buchnevich.
He had solid seasons for the Rangers in the past, but this past season was his best by far. And when Panarin was out, he was one of the guys that began to emerge.
In 54 games, he tallied his highest point total for a season in his career. He had 48 points, with 20 goals and 28 assists. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come for Buchnevich.
If he can continue to produce, that will be important for the Rangers as they begin to start making pushes for the playoffs, and eventually a Stanley Cup again in the coming seasons.