As phase 2 of the NHL’s return-to-play was initiated on Monday, we are now starting the preparations for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Since the Rangers 2019-20 regular season has officially come to an end, it’s time to look back on some of the players that stuck out through the 70 games played.
Best Rookie: Adam Fox
Though a few of the Rangers’ newcomers had some nice seasons, there’s really no question that Adam Fox made himself known this season. Fox played all 70 games for the Rangers and put up 8 goals and 42 points, establishing himself in 4th in points scored by a rookie, 3rd in points scored by a rookie defenseman, and 1st in plus/minus among all rookies.
All season long, Fox was poised with the puck and very strong in the defensive zone, while also getting his shot on the powerplay and chipping in offensively. There’s no doubt that he will develop into a top-pair defenseman (if he hasn’t done so already).
Honorable mentions: Igor Shesterkin, Ryan Lindgren
Most Improved Player: Ryan Lindgren
This was Ryan Lindgren’s first full season in the NHL. He played in 60 games and registered 1 goal and 14 points. He wasn’t always contributing to the offense, but Ryan Lindgren was no doubt one of the toughest players on the Rangers’ roster this season.
Despite taking some grief from the Bruins’ Brad Marchand, Lindgren constantly stuck up for his teammates and played a hard, gritty game. He played on the left side of Adam Fox for the majority of the season, and the two solidified themselves as top dmen. David Quinn Praised Lindgren for his improvement in a Q&A in April, saying that Lindgren “has really come an awful long way in a year.”
Honorable mentions: Tony DeAngelo, Filip Chytil
Best Breakout Defenseman: Tony DeAngelo
DeAngelo’s season was filled with countless highlights, from his hattrick against the Devils to his 2 overtime winners. DeAngelo finished the regular season with 15 goals and 53 points, 4th among all NHL defensemen. He was also a key for the Rangers’ power play this year, with 19 power-play points.
DeAngelo handles the puck with poise and is good at turning defense into offense quickly. DeAngelo has established himself as a staple on the Rangers’ blueline and will no doubt be due for a contract raise this ‘summer’ (whenever that may be).
Honorable mentions: Ryan Lindgren, Adam Fox
Best Breakout Forward: Mika Zibanejad
I had to give Mika an award for his incredible season. Zibanejad finished off the regular season with 41 goals and 75 points, both career highs, in just 57 games. Despite missing the majority of November with an upper-body injury, he made his run for the Rocket Richard Trophy in the second half of the season. Zibanejad had a hot stick the last few weeks of the season, including his unforgettable 5 goal night against the Caps at the Garden.
Mika consistently put up great numbers and was a clutch player and a difference-maker in countless games. Along with his goal-scoring abilities, Zibanejad also solidified his role as the number one center this year, displaying strong defensive qualities as well and becoming one of the Rangers’ top penalty-killers. The future is certainly bright for Mika Zibanejad, and his breakout year in 2019-20 is just the beginning.
Honorable mentions: Ryan Strome, Filip Chytil
Most Valuable Player: Artemi Panarin
This one was a close race between Panarin and Mika Zibanejad, who no doubt had an outstanding season and was scorching hot when the league announced it’s pause in March. However, I went with Artemi Panarin for a number of reasons. Panarin finished with 32 goals and 95 in 69 games, both career highs for the winger. On top of that, he had 28 multi-point games, including a 5 point night against the Islanders in January.
Panarin has the ability to be a difference-maker in any game and makes all of the players around him better. His center, Ryan Strome put up a career-high 59 points, as both he and Panarin were a duo that was really exciting to watch. Panarin was the MVP of the Rangers this season because of his ability to elevate the games of the players around him and his phenomenal hockey senses.
Honorable mentions: Mika Zibanejad, Adam Fox
There are countless highlights from the 2019-20 regular season, and these players all stepped up big time. The fun will only continue this summer when we get to see them in action again.
Featured Image: ---