Rangers Center Mika Zibanejad Sidelined with Upper Body Injury
The Rangers hit a wall tonight when Zibanejad suddenly left the lineup with an upper body injury. He was slated to play on a line with Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich before the Blueshirts were forced to make a change. David Desharnais took his position for the night.
Losing Zibanejad is an immediate crisis for the Rangers. He’s gracefully stepped into Derek Stepan‘s former role this season with sparkling offensive play. Zibanejad has 11 goals and 11 assists for a total of 22 points in 24 games this season. His chemistry on the top line with Kreider and Buchnevich, “the KZB” has yielded the majority of the Rangers offense this year. The three have a combined 52 points this season and counting.
Last year, Zibanejad’s arrival in New York caused quite an uproar with the Blueshirt faithful. He arrived from the Ottawa Senators for playoff favorite, Derick Brassard. Before playing with the Senators full-time, Zibanejad played for Sweden and the Senator’s AHL team, the Binghamton Senators.
However promising Zibanejad’s performance looked for the Rangers, it became stunted due to a broken fibula last November. He ended the season playing 56 games, earning 37 points. Lucky for the Rangers, gambling on his youth and budding talent has paid off greatly. Brassard has 17 points in 22 games with the Senators this year.
If Zibanejad’s injury causes an extended absence, call ups from the Hartford Wolf Pack would be imminent. Vinni Lettieri would be a solid candidate for his shot at the NHL and as would Filip Chytil. In the meantime, the rest of the Rangers offensive needs to fill in the gaps. The defense did so for Ryan McDonagh‘s absence, there’s no reason the Rangers couldn’t do it for Zibanejad as well.
Zibanejad signed a five-year contract extension with the Rangers this off-season valued at $26.75 million.
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