Panarin named to NHL First All-Star Team, Award Winners revealed, big off-season awaits Rangers


Artemi Panarin didn’t win the Hart Trophy, but deservedly was named to the First All-Star Team. AP Photo credit NHL.com via Getty Images

Yesterday, the NHL completed revealing their Awards for this extended 2019-20 season. One that’s still going following the Lightning edging the Stars 3-2 in Game Two of the Stanley Cup to even the series.

The winner of the Calder was Cale Makar. He beat out fellow defenseman Quinn Hughes with Dominik Kubalik finishing a distant third. Rangers defenseman Adam Fox was fourth even receiving a first place vote. Mystifying. Elvis Merzlikins was fifth and Devils goalie Mackenzie Blackwood finished sixth.

The All-Rookie Team featured Makar and Hughes on the blueline with Kubalik, Nick Suzuki and Victor Olofsson up front. Merzlikins was the goalie.

Also announced was the winner of the Vezina. It went to Connor Hellebuyck. In becoming the first Winnipeg Jet to be recognized by NHL GMs as the league’s best goalie, he beat out Tuukka Rask and Andrei Vasilevskiy. Jacob Markstrom finished fourth.

There’s a new Norris winner. Finally, Roman Josi was rewarded as the NHL’s top defenseman. He easily outdistanced John Carlson. Lightning behemoth Victor Hedman was third. Soon to be former Blue Alex Pietrangelo was fourth. Jaccob Slavin was fifth. Tony DeAngelo received a fourth place vote and totaled 12 points.

In the biggest award of the day, Leon Draisaitl took home his first Hart Trophy as league MVP. A deserving winner, he received 91 first place votes to win comfortably over runner-up Nathan MacKinnon, who got 48 first place votes and 66 second place tallies. Artemi Panarin, who had a brilliant first season with the Rangers, was a distant third with 24 first place votes, 41 second place and 54 third place tallies. Although he didn’t win, his remarkable year won’t be forgotten. David Pastrnak was fourth and Connor McDavid was fifth.

Draisaitl made it a clean sweep by taking home the Ted Lindsay Award (formerly Pearson) as the most outstanding player as recognized by his peers. He won it over MacKinnon and Panarin, who I felt could’ve been the winner for this award. Especially given who he played with at five-on-five. The Rangers weren’t in the same league as either Colorado or Edmonton, who also boasts McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Even though he came up short, Panarin was named to the First All-Star Team (seen above). There are no surprises with the team looking like this.

G Connor Hellebuyck, WPG

D John Carlson, WSH

D Roman Josi, NSH

C Leon Draisaitl, EDM

RW David Pastrnak, BOS

LW Artemi Panarin, NYR

Here is the Second All-Star Team.

G Tuukka Rask, BOS

D Victor Hedman, TBL

D Alex Pietrangelo STL

C Nathan MacKinnon, COL

RW Nikita Kucherov, TBL

LW Brad Marchand, BOS

If there were a third team, it would’ve been pretty good. You could’ve had Andrei Vasilevskiy in net with defensemen Jaccob Slavin and Cale Makar along with Connor McDavid centering Patrick Kane and Alex Ovechkin. Not bad. There’s a combined five Harts (Ovechkin 3) and a Vezina.

Regarding the Awards which also saw Sean Couturier take home his first Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward, beating out Patrice Bergeron and Ryan O’Reilly. It’s mystifying that they gave Bruce Cassidy the Jack Adams over John Tortorella and Alain Vigneault. Unbelievable.

For Panarin, it was a successful season on Broadway where he led the Rangers in scoring with 95 points (32-63-95) to tie MacKinnon for fourth overall. His plus-36 rating paced all NHL forwards. No one had more even strength points than the Bread Man who wound up with a league best 71 (25-46-71). That is mostly playing with Ryan Strome and Jesper Fast on the second line. It speaks to Panarin’s unique talent.

Who will he play with next year? Strome is a restricted free agent and due a raise. A year away from unrestricted status, will the versatile center be back on a one-year contract at say $4.8 million? Between him and Tony DeAngelo, the Rangers don’t have a lot of room to work with. Fast is a UFA they’d like to bring back with Alex Georgiev and Brendan Lemieux both Group II free agents.

The organization must reach a decision with Henrik Lundqvist, who isn’t expected to return. Will it be a buyout, a trade or even a retirement announcement? Who knows. We’ll have to wait and see how things go this off-season.

One that promises to be strange and exciting given the calendar. Normally, they’re in full camp mode playing preseason games. Instead, the Stanley Cup will conclude in a week crowning a new champion. The first buyout period is coming up. Then, you’ll have a Virtual Draft where the Blueshirts will make it official and select top rated Canadian prospect Alexis Lafreniere first overall on October 6. Rounds 2-7 are Oct. 7.

There’s a lot around the corner as the first official day of Fall is here. It’s sure to be fascinating.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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