Artemi Panarin

Why former Blackhawk Artemi Panarin should win the Hart Trophy

Why former Blackhawk Artemi Panarin should win the Hart Trophy

On Tuesday, the NHL announced the three finalists for the Hart Trophy, awarded to the player most valuable to their team. 

This year, along with former Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin — now with the New York Rangers — Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl and Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon made the cut.

The winner will be announced during the Conference Finals or prior to the Stanley Cup Final per the NHL

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Out of the trio, Draisaitl had the most points (110) at the time of the NHL Pause on March 12, then Panarin (95), followed by MacKinnon (93). 

But, the Hart Trophy isn't about the most points, that's what the Art Ross Trophy is for.

What it comes down to is: Who's doing it all for their squad? Who's putting a team over? Whose ability and contributions are head and shoulders above the rest of their teammates?

That's why the Bread Man has the best case.

He's been the model player the Rangers desperately needed. It's not just the way he plays hard every shift, it's not just his scoring prowess, it's not just the electrifying leg kick celebrations. It's everything, the complete game that he perpetually plays in full throttle.

Related: Former Blackhawk Artemi Panarin expresses concern over NHL's Return To Play program

Aside from being third in the league in points — tied with Boston's David Pastrnak — Panarin led the NHL in evength strength points (71) and touted the league's second best +/- rating this year (+36). 

Yes, the Hart usually goes to a player who helped get his team in the traditional Stanley Cup Playoffs. This year, with the NHL's 24-team postseason, the Rangers are sneaking in at No. 11 in the Eastern Conference.

Regardless, the Rangers are in this year. With the long layoff in between and a top playmaker like Panarin, anything can happen.

Now for his competition. 

Just how valuable was Draisaitl to the Oilers, anyway? I mean, extremely valuable, obviously, but take him out of the equation and Edmonton (No. 5 in the Western Conference) is probably still a playoff team because of Connor McDavid and co. Plus, Draisaitl played with McDavid for the first two months of the season. 

Related: Artemi Panarin thought he'd play whole career with the Blackhawks

As for MacKinnon... at No. 2 in the West, the Avalanche are a pretty complete club. He definitely helps put Colorado over in being a top team but they went 24-13-0, with a seven-game winning streak, in games that MacKinnon didn't score a goal. In other words, when he wasn't scoring, they were fine.

The opposite was true for Panarin. 

New York was 34-16-4 when Panarin scored a point this season and 3-12-1 when he didn't.

Artemi wasn't supposed to be his own superstar or an impact player every night, especially not without Patrick Kane. But he's proven he is and re-energized a dormant franchise in the process. It's Panarin's year. Hopefully he gets the required votes from the writers association. Just imagine the leg kicks if he does...

Patrick Kane explains his unique chemistry with Artemi Panarin

Patrick Kane explains his unique chemistry with Artemi Panarin

Even though the NHL announced a plan for pro hockey to return this summer, for now we’re still left to watch classic games on our couches, remembering the good times.

Men’s Journal spoke with Patrick Kane recently to rehash some of those good times, including his high-powered offensive years playing alongside Artemi Panarin.

Last month, Kane made waves by saying skating on the same line with Panarin was the "funnest hockey" he's ever played.

How could that be when he'd won three Cups with other teams and linemates, but he never even won as much as a single playoff series alongside the Breadman?

“After I said that I thought about it a little bit and I didn’t want that to-- I don’t know if that came across the right way,” Kane said. “Those years from 2009-2015 for me, that was so fun… playing on winning, Stanley Cup champion teams, that’s as fun as it’s going to get.

"When I was playing with Panarin I felt like, for me personally, that was like ‘this is how hockey should be played.’ This was just two players combining their talents and having the chemistry... it wasn't like anything was planned or set in stone. We just figured it out on the go. Then after 10 or 15 games you figure out the spots you want to go to.

“It became pretty natural playing with him. It was really, really fun hockey playing with him for those two years. For me personally, that was the most chemistry I’ve probably had with someone, just natural, instinctive chemistry to play that hockey with someone.

“I’m glad I got to do that with him.”

RELATED: Patrick Kane shares how he's spending time during stay-at-home orders

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Former Blackhawks star Artemi Panarin shows off cutest quarantine partner

Former Blackhawks star Artemi Panarin shows off cutest quarantine partner

Former Blackhawks star Artemi Panarin has found the ultimate practice partner in quarantine. He’s keeping his skills sharp with his dog Riziy.

Panarin’s unbelievably cute partner actually plays pretty tight defense while Panarin works on his stick handling. The most impressive part, however, may be the fact that Panarin pulls all of this off without whacking his dog in the snout.

This also leads to a few questions. Is it fair for competitive balance that Panarin gets the greatest practice partner in quarantine history, while all other players are left to their own devices? Should the NHL hand out dogs to all other players to even the playing field? Will other dogs even be able to perform at the level of Riziy? Only time will tell.

If you’re looking for more incredible Riziy content, you can follow him on Instagram.

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Quarantine buddies ♥️

A post shared by Riziy (@mr_riziy) on

RELATED: Jeremy Colliton shows off his quarantine moustache

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