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Artemi Panarin: With or without Mika Zibanejad at even strength?

Before we begin, let’s note that David Quinn has already stated that he intends on playing Artemi Panarin with Mika Zibanejad to start the season. While that is the plan, plans change. Chemistry is a factor. Overall lineup depth is a factor. Injuries become a factor.

While injuries will undoubtedly impact the Rangers at some point, assuming a healthy roster means that the Rangers will be looking to find some kind of top-six that is both lethal and deep. The obvious connection of Panarin-Zibanejad is the one folks gravitate to, with Panarin being a bonafide star and Zibanejad showing he is a legit 1C. It makes logical sense.

Loading up the top line has certainly worked for Boston, as Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak are one of the best lines in the league. But what makes Boston work is they have a dangerous second line too with Krejci, DeBrusk, and Coyle. Teams can’t load up on that first line because the second will crush them.

Let’s asssume, for a second, that Panarin and Zibanejad are joined by Pavel Buchnevich to start the season. That leaves a second line of Chris Kreider-Filip Chytil-Kaapo Kakko. While certainly very skilled with legitimate potential, there are a ton of questions. Will Kakko be ready to take that role right away (signs point to yes)? Will Chytil be able to keep up as the 2C? Can Kreider help develop the under-21’s? Will Kreider even be here?

I guess the most important question here is what the overall goal of the season is. If it is to compete for a playoff spot, development be damned, then Panarin and Zibanejad makes sense. That combination has the potential to put up a point per game pace for each player. All they need is a RW that is skilled enough to hold his own.

If the goal is to teach and develop, then perhaps splitting up Zibanejad and Panarin makes sense. Panarin is the best skater on the roster, and with Chytil’s progression as the 2C so critical to future success, what better way to teach the kid than to play him with an elite winger? Ditto Kakko, who likely doesn’t need the sheltering treatment but will need time to adjust.

I don’t think there’s a wrong answer here, as either setup will work for the Rangers. It’s a matter of what is best for the short term and long term success. Making the playoffs this year is a stretch goal, but shouldn’t sacrifice the long term vision of developing these kids and ensuring the Rangers have sustained success coming out of this rebuild.

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32 Comments

  1. Panarin is a first line player. Team him with Zibby and another winger. I would suggest Lemiuex, so they have a bit of an agitator on the line with 2 finesse players. That would leave both Buch and Krieder together on the wings with Chytil. They both have experience together that should enable that line to work well. I would put Kakko and Kraftsov on the wings of Strome on the 3rd line. This could be an all-world line of youth and talent. The 4th line could be Lias/Howden/Fast/Names – or whomever is still here come season start.

    Once again, I think the offense will take some time to gel. The defense is a whole ‘nother story. How the chips fall and who is here will make predicting lines just about impossible.

    1. I think you’re giving LeMiuex a lot more credit than he’s earned in his short NHL career. 72 games (Jets and Rangers), 13 goals, 5 assists, 129 penalty minutes. I can’t see having Mika and Panarin wasting time trying to set him up, or thinking that he’s going to help them score. From an offensive point of view, he’d be an anchor on what could be a dynamic line, especially when the Rangers have (at least for now), four other players who are clearly bigger scoring threats than he is, and probably better defensively, as well, who could slot in on the top line. If you’re thinking of remaking Boston’s top line (Bergeron, Pastrnak, and Marchand), with LeMiuex playing in Marchand’s role, you’re forgetting, that Marchand, as irritating (and dirty) a player as he is, is also a 100 point scorer.

  2. If you’re playing Panarin with Ziba & Buchnevich it needs to be:

    LW: Panarin
    C: Ziba
    RW: Buchnevich

    Easier for the wingers on their off hand to set up 1 timers, make plays from below the goal line when cycling.

    Otherwise I split them up.

  3. NYR needs to use Names as the 2C, between Panarin and Buch. The Russian line will cause some havoc

    1. I’m with you on this one Sal!
      Even if only to pump up Namestnikov’s stats and dump him for a 2nd at the deadline (assuming Chytil or Lias show reliable top 6 ready during the year).
      Namestnikov has already shown he compliments high-end offensive players well (Stamkos/Kuch).

  4. I think yes…there will be times it makes sense and maybe times it doesn’t. Zib and Panarin may have great chemistry, maybe not. There are both righties so maybe you need to spread that out a bit at times. maybe not. Maybe Panarin helps elevate Chytil and it’s better for Chytil’s development? Maybe not. Is Kreider here? is Buch here? There’s too many “what if’s” to decide now whether or not these two should play together.

    Keep an open mind. If nothing else it should be fun seeing where everyone fits.

  5. If it were me:

    KZB
    Panarin-Chytil-Kakko

    For the simple reason that Panarin is a possession beast and would take severe pressure off of Chytil as the 2C.

    But it will not end up this way.

    1. Not a bad idea. I do think center is a place that the Rangers can strengthen a little bit.

      1. I’m ok with Chytil at 2C with strong wingers.

        But start trading CK and/or Buch and then that winger strength is gone.

    2. Tony

      Those lines look very good to me. KZB have already shown they are good together. Panarian-Chytle-Kakko need a corner guy, Kakko fits the bill, and also is a fore-checker. Strome-Andersson/Howden-Kravs will do their fair share of scoring, while Kravs will be the fore-checker, and keep this line defensively responsible. Lemiieux-Andersson/Howden-Fast will be the shut down line. This to me makes the most sense to me, and gives all four lines a defender, and balanced scoring on the top three lines!!!!!!!!!

      1. Walt, it all works for both CK and Buch are here. If they become cap casualties then the Panarin signing is watered down considerably, IMO.

        No need to do that, as there is plenty of contracts to get rid of that will allow both CK and Buch to be fit in under the cap.

        1. Tony

          I won’t argue against that, your spot on!!!! Let’s see how good a GM JG is, by dumping some money, and dead wood………………….

    3. Kakko is also a possession beast, would be interesting to see how that would play out.

      1. yeah, I think that Chytil would be ok under this scenario.

        I think he would be ok if he played with CK and Buch as well. But they would have to be here for that to happen.

  6. 5×5 I see little distinction between the 1st and 2nd lines — splitting Panarin from Mika may create more of a 1A 1B situation rather than the skill discrepancy usually found between the 1st and 2nd lines. On the PP however it’s another story, given the discrepancy in ice time between the 1st and 2nd PP units. In that case it makes sense to have Mika with Panarin (and Kreider).

      1. Right now Lias isn’t better than Namestnikov, but Namestnikov is a 30pt player who will be playing in the KHL in a year, so where do you invest your resources?

  7. ZIb-Kreider-Panarin
    Chytil–Kaapo-Fast-
    Lias-Krav-Names
    Shat-N-pants-Lemiuex-Buch
    You have to roll the dice, QD does not care what you think.

  8. Looks like Trouba is playing hardball at the negotiating table. If he wants to really be here, he signs a long term deal, otherwise he may be a casualty at next year’s trade deadline. I am beginning to believe he is just a prima donna.

    Don’t really care where Panarin plays, as long as he gets close to 20 minutes of ice time.

    1. Panarin -Zib – Kakko
      Kreider – Chytl – Buch
      Fast- Andersen – Kravsov
      Lemieux – Howden – McKeg

      All dependent on keeping Kreider, or Strome/Names. Don’t think we can do both.

      1. I have the same top 6. Line 3 kravtsov howden Lemieux line 4 fast names and boo. Lias on a revamped Wolfpack wearing the C

      2. Lemieux belongs on the third line before Fast, other wise I’m OK with the lines???????

    2. Who said that Trouba is playing hardball? I would highly doubt that he would not come here with a basic deal already in place.

      The timing of the RFA signings, with arb rights, are crucial since once they are done the 2nd buyout window opens 48 hours later, so what’s the rush? The Rangers are trying to trade vet players to clear cap space.

      Word of advice: Believe nothing of what you read in the newspapers. They have no clue. Gorton is tight lipped, unlike Sather who blabbed to Brooks on a regular basis. Panarin to the Isles, Devs, Avs, Panthers, is example #1. All giving higher offers and yet, he came here.

      1. Wise words spoken here, no need to sweat times on our side!!!!!!!!

        My only fear is that some of these guys price themselves out of here, particularly Kreider, and Buch…

  9. Is there any chance the Trouba deal is being held up because the Rangers want to try and make trades before the contract is public? Before every other team knows what they’re up against?

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