An in depth look at Artemi Panarin’s impact to the Rangers

When the Rangers landed the biggest free agent fish on the market, they got themselves a bonafide 1LW, an elite winger capable of 30 goals and a point per game. He’s a talent the Rangers haven’t had in at least a decade, and someone that you hope Kaapo Kakko and/or Vitali Kravtsov turn into at their peak.

Panarin dominated the KHL before coming over to the Chicago Blackhawks for the 2015-2016 season, and then immediately put up a point per game or close to it. For some reason, the Hawks traded him to Columbus for Brandon Saad, which was a silly trade. In his two years with Columbus, Panarin put up 82 and 87 points. Of last year’s 28-59-87 line, 6-12-18 of that came on the powerplay. That stat line would make him the highest scoring Ranger overall and the second highest scoring Ranger on the powerplay, based on last year’s stats. I think you all knew that though.

Even Strength

Let’s get into what the raw stat line doesn’t tell us. Panarin’s metrics are off the charts, with a 55.68 (!!) xGF% to go with his 57.78 GF%, which actually means his raw stat line should have been slightly better. His xGF/60 of 2.78 lead the Blue Jackets, and his xGA/60 of 2.21 was third (!). The best defense is having the puck, and Panarin does that with some of the best in the league.

Let’s first look at his overall impact on shot locations while he is on the ice, both for and against. His offensive impact is the top two charts, and the defensive impact the bottom two. Just look at the difference in with and without on offense. That sea of red in the middle of the ice, plus the +20% increased threat level when he is on the ice, makes him a legitimate scoring threat for him and his teammates whenever he is out there. He just drives the offense. There’s very little red when he wasn’t on the ice for Columbus.

Defensively, the effect is significantly smaller. Focusing on where the LW would be playing (left point), the impact is clear. More blue when on the ice, and more red when off the ice. However it is worth noting that Panarin may struggle around the top of the circle with his defense. If that’s the only downside, then I’ll take it. Panarin’s impact isn’t just on the score sheet, it’s in sustained offensive zone time, so ideally he’s rarely in the defensive zone.

This shows us Panarin’s impact on the rest of his Columbus teammates. I don’t think I needed to tell you this, but Panarin was the driver for Columbus. Almost every single player was worse (red boxes) without Panarin on the ice. When looking for impact players, you want to see all red boxes to the lower left of the cluster here, and that’s what Panarin shows here. He’s no coaster. He’s the driver.

Here are all his goals from last season. Notice how he never stops moving, finding the open ice, and then surveying what options are available? He does this so quickly, and his decision making is impeccable. That second goal off the rush, he saw how the defense was gravitating towards the puck and he just slammed on the brakes in the slot and waited for the pass. His vision is tremendous. Also, his shot is possibly the least talked about aspect of his game, but it’s lethal.

With Panarin on the ice, it may actually be ideal for David Quinn to split him up from Mika Zibanejad, and perhaps put Panarin with Filip Chytil as his center. Panarin will draw the attention, which means Chytil has less pressure on him. Throw in some Pavel Buchnevich so the under-20 year olds are split up, and you have a solid 1A to the Kreider-ZIbanejad-Kakko/Kravtsov 1B. That’s just one of many possibilities with the front-end talent the Rangers have.


The Blueshirts didn’t have the best powerplay last season, but they did find their own Alex Ovechkin-lite with Zibanejad at the off-wing firing away. Panarin also plays that spot, but is not the shooter that Zibanejad is.

Now Columbus didn’t have the best powerplay, but look at the impact when Panarin was on the ice versus off the ice. It’s almost a 30% increase in actual effectiveness. Interestingly enough, most of the shot attempts with him on the ice came from the top of the right circle, not the left circle. So he’s feeding the other off-wing with opportunities.

The first thing that really grabs my attention on the powerplay is how penalty killers gravitate towards Panarin.

This highlight is with Seth Jones on the point and 40-goal scorer Cam Atkinson on the wing, yet Panarin is the one drawing the attention and giving room for Jones/Atkinson to play catch for the blast from the point.

Another thing that jumps out at me is how poised he is with the puck and how quick his decision making is. On this play, he has the penalty killer all over him, but he holds on to it until the very last second to allow the rest of the powerplay to get set up. This gives the point and the off-wing more time to shoot, and it winds up with Atkinson’s goal.

Penalty Kill

For what it’s worth, Panarin didn’t play the PK with Columbus. If the name of the game is riding your best players every chance you get, I can see that changing.

Artemi Panarin is the elite, play driving, scoring winger that gives the Rangers a much needed attention driver on the ice. Teams will load up against him, and look to stop him, yet he just smiles and sets up his teammates for scoring chances. His presence also slides down some previous first line talent to the second line against weaker opposition, giving them more opportunities to feast on lesser talent. Chris Kreider should see the immediate impact here, if he’s still with the team come October.

The Rangers are taking a gamble on a seven year deal, especially on a contract that is essentially buyout proof with a no-move clause. But this is a calculated gamble with an extremely low risk of blowing up in their face. The Rangers got one of the best wingers in the game.

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  • Panarin’s stats prove he is worth the money. Few can dispute that. I like the idea of splitting him off of the Zib line, only so you can have 2 lines that can put the puck in the net – that said, he is a first line player.

    One worry if you put him with Chytil and a K-kid, who is going to play defense from the forwards? Al lease with Zibby, we know he comes back to play D.

    Still no moves from the front office regarding trades. Guessing Gorton is reviewing multiple bad scenarios. He needs a team that isn’t cash strapped and could use a 3C or a 2D. I am sure he will find a deal out there in the coming weeks.

    I would like CK to stay, but that means multiple moves – hopefully Gorton finds teams to dance with.

    This is a good time to be a NY Ranger fan!

  • Not sure I’d unseat zib from his pp spot. will depend who is on other side also. Prob one of kakko/kravtsov. Maybe play a fwd at the point (kravtsov) and slide panarin to the opposite side? also is kreider still in mix and if not does that change the setups?

    • At evens and PP, I’d put Kakko on his off hand with Ziba and Kreider as the net front guy.

      Kakko breaks the defensive shape, sucks players towards him where he can feed Ziba the 1x, float a saucer for Kreider to tip or shoot on a screened goalie far side.

      For Panarin, put Buch on the LW and have Strome in the pivot to do similar things, but with Strome coming from below the goal line.

  • After learning more about Panarin’s background I was more sold on the idea of signing him, even for $11M+ x 7. The full NMC is a bit disconcerting, but seeing how they structured the payments on the contract I’m more or less at ease. He’s clearly an elite player that drives the play out there and as I’ve stated before, he’s low mileage for a 27 year old and relies more on creativity than physical attributes. Plus he’s best available UFA under 30 through the year 2021 — by far … so if we’re entering the UFA market to find an elite player, he’s it and I’m willing to admit that I may have overblown my previous reservations.

    I would prefer keeping Kreider on the team, but if Kreider is the price we have to pay (instead of Shattenkirk, Smith, Staal, Namestnikov and/or Strome) then so be it —- we’ll survive … plus a Kreider trade will provide us with significant assets as opposed to trading any of the aforementioned players. Perhaps there’s a younger version of Kreider we can pry lose from someone with those assets … but again, let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

      • They are which is why I prefer to find an alternative … I’m still of the opinion that because of Kreider’s work ethic, physical attributes and skating prowess he will last well into his 30’s as a quality player. I see him as a much better skating version of Anders Lee and I don’t expect a physical breakdown or a significant loss of speed. Still though 7 x 7 is reasonable given the current market but a substantial commitment. A contract for a little less on term and salary would make me happy.

      • Kreider’s are rare. He’s so good that, at one point, I thought (even Barry Melrose said so, too) he could be the best player in the NHL if he ever put it all together. While he ended up not achieving that level of play, he’s still so good. When he’s on it, though, he’s quite close to being a top player. If we trade him, I will miss him more than I still miss Anisimov.

        • Agreed. Kreider’s speed and size, and his willingness to create havoc in front of the net are qualities that would be sorely missed. There is the leadership quotient to be considered too. He has been their defacto captain on the ice since last season when dealing with officials, and he speaks Russian. The stars align with his qualities. He should be kept.

      • Thanks … and if you haven’t seen it, check out this Russian documentary (english subtitles) on Panarin’s development:


        connect the www TO the rest of the link.

  • I knew he was a good player, but I didn’t realize until I saw those charts just how good he is. The Jackets have some decent players (Atkinson being one), but ALL of them were better with Panarin than without. As to Creature Feature’s comment about defense with Panarin and Chytil on the ice, I think they’ll be just fine. In fact, Panarin may be just what it takes to bring out the best in Chytil.

  • I think of it this way: The Rangers probably can have a forward lineup that includes both Kreider and Buchnevich to go along with Panarin, Kakko, Kratsov on the wings. They do that by losing Vesey (done) and Smith or Shatty, and maybe Fast if they have to also. That probably gets them close to where they need to be in the cap with enough room to sign Kreider and Trouba and give bridges to ADA and Lemieux. They will be a much better team with Kreider than without him for the foreseeable future.

    • Would you rather lose Fast or Namestnikov or Strome? I know Fast is a tad older and just a 25-30 point player, but you don’t win 4 consecutive players’ player awards if you don’t have something more to give a team. Besides, he costs less than HALF of what Namestnikov and Strome are getting and I’m willing to bet (like real money man lol) that he’ll take a hometown discount to stay another couple of years.

      • I don’t know Tanto. Yes Fast slots in everywhere you need him and defensive responsibility is something the kids can learn from him. Maybe you let Namestnikov go and pray that Strome can handle 2C a while if Chytil cannot. Namestnikov is the bigger cap hit.

        Hard to say. My point is really that they have some guys they can do without who make more sense to trade away than Kreider. As far as I am concerned Kreider is the next captain and a rather essential piece of the puzzle.

        • Agree … I think based on cap hit though I have to keep Fast and would look to moving one of the two $4m forwards — unless Quinn himself thinks one of those two can be a bona fide top 6 forward — and I don’t mean for a few weeks. Then move 1 d’man between Shattenkirk, Smith or Staal. I still would like to keep Smith, his versatility alone makes him a better value compared to the redundancy of Shattenkirk.

  • Glad to see the group warming to this signing.

    As much as I love Trouba and the trade for him, I said all offseason that signing Panarin was a must sign and the #1 priority. Because he drives play so well and will make the Rangers a better team, all by himself.

      • LOL, true, but you can also be HAPPY about it as well.

        Wait until you see what we got in this player. Nothing you have seen since Jagr.

  • “For what it’s worth, Panarin didn’t play the PK with Columbus. If the name of the game is riding your best players every chance you get, I can see that changing.”

    Nobody rides their best players harder than Torts, just Nobody! Having said that, why would you play Panarin on the PK? His game is to provide offense, why work him on the PK? Doesn’t make sense, and I guess Torts agrees.

    • If the primary goal of the PK is to keep the puck out of the net (it is), then let him relax every once in a while. I mean sure scoring a few points on the PK is always an added boost to a team, but we have other guys to man the PK and keep the puck out of our net … the primary goal.

      • My point, exactly! Happy Fourth of July everyone! It’s great to be an American!

        To Walt and all the rest who served this great country…Thank you, I truly appreciate my freedom!

    • You as well pal.

      and to everyone. remember the people that gave us our freedom, including the people here on this site that gave their service to us.

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