Mika Zibanejad Set to Become New York Rangers Top-Line Center

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Mika Zibanejad
in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 9, 2017 in New York City.

In late July, the New York Rangers and center Mika Zibanejad headed into arbitration, negotiating a new contract, one that both the Rangers and Zibanejad hoped would keep him in a Rangers’ sweater for a long time to come. After some time of negotiation, it was announced that the Rangers re-signed Zibanejad to a five-year contract worth $26.75 million. The contract carries a cap hit of $5.35 million and has a no trade clause in years three through five. At only 24 years old, this deal locks Zibanejad in until he would be 29 years old, a time frame that will likely be his prime.

Mika Zibanejad Set to Become New York Rangers Top-Line Center

Zibanejad’s Season in Review

This past season, Zibanejad faced a few large tasks after being traded to the Rangers from the Ottawa Senators in return for Derick Brassard: to become adjusted to playing in Broadway for the New York Rangers, one of the top playoff contenders in the National Hockey League, to be able to perform well and solidify himself as a top six player, and to be able to gel with guys such as Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, and Rick Nash. The beginning of the season was a good one for him, he showed a great amount of promise and was living up to expectation. However, come November, he suffered a fractured fibula which kept him out of action until about mid-January of 2017. Fortunately, he recovered well and came back firing on all cylinders, helping the Rangers finish their playoff push.

In 56 games this season, Mika Zibanejad scored 14 goals and tallied 23 assists for a total of 37 points. He ranked fifth on the team in offense with a 49.3 Corsi percentage and was fourth in ‘goals for’ with a percentage of 52.26%. In the postseason, he tallied nine points, two goals and nine assists, in 12 games played. Overall, he showed great speed and skill and proved he could play on any line with the majority of the Rangers offensive unit. He was impressive on the power-play, with eleven of his 37 points coming on the man-advantage.

Mika Zibanejad Contract Comparisons

This contract is a solid deal for both Zibanejad and the Rangers. He has expressed his desire to stay in the Big Apple, and he got five more years of it. Some may criticize the Rangers for perhaps overpaying him, but in comparison to other extensions this off-season, Tyler Johnson’s extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning (seven years, $5 million per) and Nashville Predators Ryan Johansen (eight years, $8 million per), the deal is a good one. More so since it lasts through Zibanejad’s prime growing years.

He will most likely be stepping in as the number one center for the Blueshirts as well, especially after the team traded Derek Stepan away to the Arizona Coyotes. But, once again, Zibanejad will have a lot on his plate this season. He will be called on to perform big and create chemistry with the Rangers team. With other centers such as J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes floating around in the lineup, Zibanejad will have to be on is A-game. If he stays healthy, he can very well cement himself as the team’s true number-one center for years to come. This new contract should serve as a major confidence booster and incentive for Mika Zibanejad to perform well under the bright lights in Broadway.

In his career, Mika Zibanejad has played in a total of 337 NHL games, scoring 78 goals and has tallied 110 assists for a total of 188 points. In the playoffs, he has scored 17 points, 4 goals, 13 assists, in 28 games.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

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