Rangers’ Panarin & Zibanejad Poised for 100-Point Seasons

Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad are the New York Rangers’ most potent offensive weapons, and both of them could have their first 100-point NHL seasons in 2022-23. However, it’s not guaranteed. 100-point seasons don’t come easy, and head coach Gerard Gallant’s Rangers will look to focus on team defense more than anything to make themselves playoff ready. These two offensive stalwarts still have the potential to break the 100-point barrier, but is that the direction the team is going?

Panarin Ready to Break Through

To say that Panarin will have a breakthrough year is a bit contradictory. However, breaking through the 100-point barrier is certainly worthy of that. He has had his best seasons production-wise, all while playing for the Rangers. He’s coming off a 96-point season which is the most in his career, and although he’ll probably look to tailor his game so it’s more suited for the playoffs, his number one job for the Blueshirts is to score goals and put up points.

Artemi Panarin New York Rangers
Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

With Gallant likely to continue pressing for a more defensive approach and mold his team into a Stanley Cup Champion this season, you might think Panarin’s production will subside. However, if Johnny Gaudreau’s 2021-22 campaign is any indication, that doesn’t have to be the case, as he didn’t figure to have a massive offensive season in Calgary Flames’ head coach Darryl Sutter’s system. However, by taking care of his defensive responsibilities, his offensive production was able to thrive and he eclipsed the 100-point mark for the first time in his career. It’s an old coaching adage. Take care of your own end, and the offense will come, and last season that rang true for “Johnny Hockey”. Hopefully, “The Breadman” will see the same outcome.

Zibanejad in His Prime

Zibanejad is coming off his highest season point total, recording 81 points in 81 games during the 2021-22 campaign. He’s still under 30 and in his prime years, so he should be poised to get near or over 100 points, especially if his linemate Chris Kreider has another excellent year. If he stays healthy and plays 80-plus games, he’ll definitely have a shot to crack that barrier. He could benefit from the help of one of the Rangers’ up-and-coming offensive threats like Alexis Lafreniere, as one projection has him playing on the first line with the dynamic duo (from ‘New York Rangers 2022-23 Line Projections after 4-Game Preseason slate’, amNY, 10/4/22).

Mika Zibanejad New York Rangers
Mika Zibanejad, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Lafreniere will certainly be looking to have a breakout season going into his third NHL campaign, which could boost Zibanejad’s stats. He’s played in 135 NHL games now and has 52 points. He earned valuable playoff experience through the Rangers’ playoff run into the Eastern Conference Final, which should make a big difference for the soon-to-be 21-year-old when the regular season starts.

Related: Rangers Need Panarin to Step Up Or They’ll be Done

If the potential line combination of Zibanejad, Kreider and Lafreniere clicks at a high pace, Zibanejad could reach new heights in production. However, in Wednesday’s loss to the Boston Bruins, Jimmy Vesey started with the duo, which could also bode well for Zibanejad. Vesey, who has good size at 6-foot-3, 202 pounds, has played in over 400 NHL games and came into the league as a highly productive offensive player. However, that hasn’t translated to the pro game yet. Head coach Gerard Gallant has also gone back to using the “Kid Line”, so we’ll just have to see how these scenarios pan out.

Panarin & Zinanejad Going for 100

Like Gaudreau, Panarin and Zibanejad can play a more defensive/playoff-style game this season and still have the most productive offensive seasons of their careers, and both get over the 100-point plateau. They can do so while fully buying into Gallant’s system, helping the Rangers to a top seed in the Eastern Conference and getting their games ready for the playoffs.

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