NHL.com examines how Artemi Panarin's decision to sign with the New York Rangers impacts the overall fantasy hockey landscape and projects his statistics for 2019-20. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy.
Elite left wing Artemi Panarin has signed a seven-year contract with the New York Rangers, significantly boosting their forward group and making them one of the most improved fantasy teams this offseason. Panarin should now be considered a top 20 overall fantasy player and top five left wing.
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Panarin, who was better than a point-per-game player in two seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets (169 points in 160 games), was the top 2019 unrestricted free agent on the market. He joins the Rangers, who have established fantasy-relevant skaters in center Mika Zibanejad, defenseman Jacob Trouba and left wing Chris Kreider, along with intriguing rookies in forwards Kaapo Kakko, Vitali Kravtsov and defenseman Adam Fox. The addition of Panarin should put the Rangers back in Stanley Cup Playoff contention after a brief rebuild.
Panarin should slot in on the top line with Zibanejad and either Kakko or Pavel Buchnevich and also the first power-play unit with Zibanejad, Kreider, Kakko and likely Trouba. The Rangers top six has drastically improved and could be among the most intriguing in fantasy if rookies Kakko and Kravstov make an immediate impact. Regardless of even-strength line combinations, Zibanejad, Buchnevich and Trouba will gain value from exposure to Panarin on the power play.
Video: Artemi Panarin agrees to terms with the Rangers
After playing his first two NHL seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks on a line with elite right wing Patrick Kane, Panarin has improved his point total in each of the two seasons since despite losing exposure to one of the top 10 fantasy players in the game. Panarin helped the Blue Jackets win the first playoff series in their history last season, combining for 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 10 postseason games against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins (top two Eastern Conference teams in regular season).
Zibanejad, who scored an NHL career-high 74 points last season, can sustain or even expand on his breakout season with Panarin on his line. But the biggest beneficiary of the Panarin signing is veteran goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who has averaged 25 wins with a combined .911 save percentage over the past three seasons but has renewed value among the top 15 fantasy goalies. It's worth noting backup Alexandar Georgiev played an NHL career-high 33 games last season and could be worth handcuffing as a deep sleeper with the aging Lundqvist.
If Trouba quarterbacks the Rangers' first power play with Panarin, Zibanejad and Kakko, he now has a better chance of building on his NHL career-high 50 points from last season and finishing among the top 20-25 fantasy defensemen. Other candidates for the first power-play role among defensemen include Fox, Kevin Shattenkirk and Tony DeAngelo.
Projection for Panarin with Rangers in 2019-20: 82 games, 35 goals, 48 assists, 83 points, plus-10, 25 PPP, 210 SOG, 20 hits
Draft range in 12-team fantasy league: Round 2 or 3 (picks 15-25)
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