Rangers’ Shesterkin, Fox & Panarin in Line for Major Awards

The New York Rangers are playing better than expected so far this season. Everyone knows the team is full of bright young talent, but they weren’t expected to have a record of 12-4-3 in the early going, which slates them third in the Metropolitan Division behind the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes respectively.

Related: 3 Takeaways From Rangers’ 4-0 Shutout Win Over Blue Jackets

The Blueshirts have received contributions from big names and role players alike thus far. Meanwhile, they’ve got a goalie who’s arguably been the best in the league in Igor Shesterkin. The 2020-21 Norris Trophy (best defenseman) winner Adam Fox has already played well enough to garner Norris talk again this season. While Artemi Panarin, who finished the 2020-21 season as a Hart Trophy (MVP) finalist, can heat up at any time and have another “Hart” worthy season.

Shesterkin for Vezina?

Shesterkin, who’s in his second full NHL season, signed the largest second contract given to a goalie in NHL history. He might not be among the league leaders in goals-against average (GAA) at the moment, but he’s been a significant reason for the Rangers’ early success.

Igor Shesterkin/Shestyorkin New York Rangers
Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

The 25-year-old Russian netminder has a record of 10-3-2 and has made big saves in important situations to help the Blueshirts hold on to win close games. Pundits in hockey media have mentioned his name of late as a possible Vezina Trophy winner as the league’s best goalie. And he’s likely gone nowhere near his 2021-22 ceiling.

Fox, Norris Again?

Fox, who became the first and only player since Bobby Orr to win the Norris Trophy in his second NHL season (2020-21), is leading all NHL defensemen in points thus far. He has 19 points in 19 games, leading the former Norris Trophy winner and 2020-21 finalist Victor Hedman of the Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning by two points. Hedman has played in 18 games. He’s leading Roman Jossi and of the Nashville Predators and John Carlson of the Capitals by one point.

The Norris Trophy: Cale Makar, Victor Hedman, Adam Fox
Victor Hedman, Adam Fox, Cale Makar; 2020-21 Norris Finalists

Fox, who recently signed a seven-year contract extension worth $9.5 million per year, contributes much more than points. The New York native logs about 25 minutes of ice time (TOI) per game and is plus-5. He regularly sends teammates on breakout passes that often lead to high-quality scoring chances. He battles and makes unselfish defensive plays while joining the rush with stellar offensive zone assists and goals as well.

Can Panarin Heat up for the Hart?

Panarin is tied with Adam Fox as the Rangers leading scorer with 19 points in 19 games. Those are hardly MVP numbers. However, Panarin has proved he can heat up at any moment and go on a tear. There are three-quarters of the season left still and a run of 30 goals and 50 assists in the next 50 games would definitely put him in the Hart Trophy conversation with the guys from Edmonton, among others.

Artemi Panarin New York Rangers
Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He’ll surely need to crack 40 goals 100 point threshold to be considered. Leon Draisaitl already has a league-leading 20 goals and 40 points. His Edmonton Oilers teammate Conor McDavid is second in scoring with 36 points thus far. Not to mention his highlight-reel goals he seems to score on a weekly basis. Panarin has his work cut out for him if he wants to be a finalist for the Hart two years in a row. Let alone win the award. However, it’s entirely possible for the Rangers top forward.

The Favorites

Shesterkin is certainly one of the favorites to win the Vezina again. Fox is leading the Norris chase again while Panarin needs to pick up the pace for Hart Trophy consideration. It’s not likely all three Blueshirts can win these awards this season. However, it’s surely possible, and winning two of the three is even probable. We’ll have to see how it plays out in the last 60 plus games.


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