Mark Messier: Rangers' All-Stars 'established themselves as superstars in the league'
With a surprising 110-point season and an appearance in the Eastern Conference Final, the Rangers put the NHL on notice last season and showed that while they may be young, they can contend for the Stanley Cup.
Adam Fox, Artemi Panarin, and Igor Shesterkin have led New York to a 27-14-8 record (62 points) through 49 games this year, and all three earned a spot on the 2023 All-Star roster for their strong seasons.
Rangers legend Mark Messier spoke with SNY contributor Julie Stewart-Binks at NHL All-Star Weekend in Sunrise, Fla. on Thursday and said the team's three All-Stars "have established themselves as superstars in the league" after building off their playoff run last year.
"There's no denying how good they are as players," Messier said. "Last year was evidence that not only were they great during the regular season, but they can perform under pressure. And ultimately, that's the real litmus test for any player is if they can do it in the playoffs when it counts most. All three players have, like I said, have established themselves as real superstars in this league. They deserve to be here and I'm looking forward to see them perform in the All-Star events here this year."
The team's three All-Stars have shown they are capable of winning postseason games, and Messier believes they can make another deep playoff run this season. New York is third in the Metropolitan Division behind the New Jersey Devils (68 points) and the Carolina Hurricanes (76 points). If the Stanley Cup Playoffs started today, the Rangers would be the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Messier, who played for the Rangers from 1991-1997 and again from 2000-2004, went on to discuss what makes Fox a Norris Trophy contender, the award given out to the league's best defenseman.
Fox won the award back in 2020-2021 and finished fifth in voting last season, as the 24-year-old has cemented himself as one of the best defenseman in the league.
"For me I think it's his hockey IQ, it's his intelligence," Messier said. "He's so smart that he's anticipating the game way before anybody else. He may not be the fastest skater, but he never loses a race to a puck. They say he doesn't have a hard shot, but he can score from the blue line. He sees things on the ice that most players don't and because of it he makes everybody around him a better player.
"When he won the Norris Trophy as a defenseman, I think probably nobody would've penciled him in for that trophy that year. But now every year he's showing that he's going to be one of the leading candidates to win the Norris Trophy every year."