Welcome back for the fourth installment of my series on the top NHL fantasy hockey players of 2019/20, where I dive deep into how they performed this year and try to project what their 2020/21 season might look like. You can go back and read my previous article on David Pastrnak here. Let’s get the basics out of the way:
Unofficial Attractiveness Score (as judged by my wife): 5/10
Panarin is another player who stepped up their game to another level in 2019/20 after a history of consistent strong production. He obviously signed a massive deal with the Rangers as a UFA and so far has delivered on it in spades, tying David Pastrnak for 3rd in NHL scoring on the season. Both he and Mika Zibanejad produced career seasons for the Rangers, which will beg the question: is it sustainable? Let’s dig deeper:
Starting with IPP, we can see that remarkably Panarin’s IPP is actually the lowest of his last three seasons, which would generally suggest some possible positive regression (more point production). He generated a career high shots/60 and shot 15.31%, a little less than a percentage point over his career average. His individual chances for stats show him generating more expected goals and scoring chances than 2018/19, but not at rates that are completely out of line with his career stats. He and Zibanejad combined on 23 goals total (one of the two assisted on the other’s goal), so it’s not like their fortunes were completely tied to one another. In fact, Panarin scored 21 points in the 13 games that Zibanejad was sidelined from Oct. 27 to Nov. 27. He did set a career-high with 20:36 of ice time per game, most of that due to an extra 48 seconds of PP time/game. The Rangers’ PP unit ranked 7th in the league but I don’t see a strong argument for it to regress significantly in 2020/21 as they climbed less than 3% vs their 2018/19 numbers and adding a star player like Panarin can certainly do that for you. In fact, the argument can be made that Panarin was actually a bit unlucky on the PP with an IPP of just 61.54% there despite generating more chances/60 than ever before in his career.
Where does that leave us? It looks like Panarin’s production is the real deal in New York, taking a step forward in terms of 5v5 production and even showing some potential room for growth on the PP. It wouldn’t be shocking if he failed to generate scoring chances 5v5 at the same rate in 2020/21, but a 5-10% boost in PP IPP% would probably cover that regression with change. I’d put Panarin’s floor for 2020/21 around 98 points, with upside up to 115 points. That being said, I don’t see a reason to project him lower than his 113-point 2019/20 pace other than that it’s very hard to sustain that type of production over a full season. This looks like a player that just wasn’t fitting well in Columbus and got comfortable in a new situation very quickly.
2020/21 Projection: 82 GP, 35 G, 74 A, 109 PTS
- Panarin is better than you think
- Doesn’t rely on Zibanejad to put up points
- May regress a little 5v5 but has room to put up more on the PP
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