New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) warms up before an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. New York Rangers star Artemi Panarin is taking a leave of absence after a Russian tabloid printed allegations from a former coach that he attacked an 18-year-old woman in Latvia in 2011. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)
- The Stanley Cup odds of the New York Rangers lengthened to +5500 with breaking news Monday that leading scorer Artemi Panarin would be taking a leave of absence from the team
- A Russian tabloid reported Monday that Panarin had assaulted an 18-year-old woman in Riga, Latvia, in 2011
- Panarin is denying the allegations. A harsh critic of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, there’s speculation that the timing of the story is politically motivated
Artemi Panarin is gone. Mika Zibanejad can’t get going. Suddenly, the Stanley Cup odds on the New York Rangers are lengthening through the stratosphere.
Panarin, the team’s leading scorer with 18 points in 14 games, is taking a leave of absence. On Monday, Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda published a story claiming that in 2011, Panarin assaulted an 18-year-old woman in Riga, Latvia.
Panarin denied the allegations. Both the Rangers and the NHL issued statements supporting the player. It’s believed that the story may be politically motivated. Panarin is a harsh critic of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
The news of the loss of their best player amidst what’s been a season of struggle for the Rangers is causing the team’s Stanley Cup odds to take a devastating hit. The Rangers are now listing at +5500 in the Stanley Cup odds. Prior to the Panarin news breaking, they were at an average betting line of +4500 across the leading online sportsbooks.
2021 NHL Stanley Cup Odds
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+800|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+800|
|Vegas Golden Knights||+1000|
|St Louis Blues||+2000|
|New York Islanders||+2500|
|New York Rangers||+5500|
|New Jersey Devils||+6000|
|San Jose Sharks||+7000|
|Los Angeles Kings||+7500|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||+8000|
|Detroit Red Wings||+65000|
Odds as of Feb. 22nd at DraftKings.
The team’s chances of winning the East Division title have also lengthened considerably. The Rangers Divisional odds jumped from +2167 to +2700. Only the Buffalo Sabres (+3000) are given longer odds.
A Political Hit Piece on Panarin
Former NHL tough guy Andrei Nazarov, who was Panarin’s coach with Vityaz Chekhov of the KHL from 2010-2012, is the source behind the allegations against Panarin. However, it’s also known that Nazarov is a staunch Putin supporter. He’s spoken out against Panarin in the past for his anti-Putin sentiments.
Breaking news: Panarin is taking a leave of absence from NYR in aftermath of political hit piece against him from Russia alleging that he beat up an 18-year-old girl in Russia in 2011.
— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) February 22, 2021
In their statement, the Rangers labeled the accusations a fabricated story, suggesting it was an intimidation tactic being deployed due to Panarin’s political beliefs. Last month, Panarin took to his Instagram account to post in support of the freeing of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, a Putin critic who’s been jailed in Russia.
Retribution was feared after Panarin’s Instagram post on 1/21 in support of opposition leader Alexi Navalny with caption “Freedom for Navalny.” Panarin, who has family in Russia, has been outspoken against Putin.
— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) February 22, 2021
Panarin spends his offseasons in Russia. Several family members live in the country. It’s rare for Russian athletes to be outspoken against Putin.
Panarin an Elite Superstar
The Rangers signed the talented forward to a seven-year, $81.5-million contract in the 2019 offseason, and Panarin delivered the goods. He finished third in NHL scoring with 32-63-95 totals in 65 games and was a Hart Trophy finalist.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 22, 2021
Panarin was a top contender in this year’s Hart Trophy odds prior to this announcement. He’s been a rare bright spot for the bumbling Rangers. Panarin is averaging 1.28 points per game.
Tough Road Ahead
The Rangers were stumbling from the outset of 2020-21. Forward Zibanejad, a 41-goal scorer last season, caught COVID-19 in training camp and hasn’t found his form. He shows 2-2-4 numbers in 10 games.
Defenseman Tony DeAngelo, a 53-point producer last season, was placed on waivers following an alleged post-game altercation with teammates. Alexis Lafreniere, the top player chosen in the 2020 NHL entry draft, has netted two goals in 16 games and is -7.
Strome said the Rangers players haven’t yet focused on the challenge they’re up against knowing Panarin will be out of the lineup indefinitely.
“Honestly, no. Pretty hectic morning here and a lot of emotions. Just trying to get through a practice.”
— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) February 22, 2021
Minus Panarin, that leaves Pavel Buchnevich (4-8-12) as the only Ranger who’s reached double digits in points. The Rangers are 2-2-1 in their last five games. They go to Philadelphia on Wednesday. That’s prior to a two-game homestand against the division-leading Boston Bruins to close out February.
New York were 3-2 overtime losers to the Bruins in their only previous meeting. Panarin scored the shootout winner in a 3-2 victory at Philly on February 18th.
The Flyers are 1-2-1 over the past four games. Teams often tend to rally in the immediate aftermath of adversity. The Rangers might be worth an underdog play Wednesday at Philly.
An industry veteran, Bob literally taught the course on the history of sports at Elder College. He has worked as a Sports Columnist for Postmedia, appeared as a guest on several radio stations, was the Vice President of the Society For International Hockey Research in Ontario, and written 25 books.