Nathan MacKinnon, likely Hart Trophy candidate, believes Artemi Panarin deserves the league MVP award this season.
Award season is upon us in the hockey world. While the NHL’s 2019-20 season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, the league is continuing on with its awards like usual, with the Hart Trophy once again being the hotly debated topic.
Like most years, the Hart Trophy isn’t as clear cut. Frontrunner Leon Draisaitl may be docked points for playing with Connor McDavid this year. David Pastrnak had a career-best season, but will likely be passed over due to the Boston Bruins being such a strong team overall. And goaltender Connor Hellebuyck will no doubt get very little love due to the netminder position being often overlooked for this award.
One campaign that has gained momentum in recent months has been that of Artemi Panarin, the New York Rangers’ free agent acquisition from a year ago. It’s not just fans and media that have been drumming up support for Panarin, notable Hart Trophy candidate for this season Nathan MacKinnon is also on his side.
Nathan MacKinnon supports Artemi Panarin’s Hart Trophy campaign
In speaking to TSN 1050’s “Overdrive” on Tuesday, MacKinnon admitted that he thinks Panarin should be this season’s Hart Trophy winner.
“I knew he was a free agent so I was kind of watching him with Columbus. What an amazing player,” MacKinnon said. “And then I watched him all season — just from talking to him, really nice guy, so maybe I’m a little biased with that — but that’s why I think he should win the Hart this year.”
MacKinnon also stated that he tried to tempt Panarin to Colorado during his free agency period, but the forward had his sights set on New York.
This season, Panarin posted the third-most points, tied with Pastrnak, in the NHL this season at 95, which ended up being a career best for the 28-year-old forward. Panarin effectively dragged the Rangers into playoff contention this season with his third-best 1.38 points per game this season for forwards playing over 50 games.
While New York made the expanded playoffs regardless, Panarin was no doubt a main factor in the Rangers’ resurgence this season. MacKinnon didn’t have a bad year himself, posting 93 points in 69 games this year on a depleted Avalanche front, but it’s clear who he’s put his money on this award season.
It’s hard to say if this buzz around Panarin, who won the Calder Trophy during his rookie season in 2016, will turn into a Hart nomination, but he has his backers no doubt.
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