New York Rangers: Analyzing Mika Zibanejad’s next contract

Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /

Mika Zibanejad is currently a restricted free agent this offseason. The New York Rangers acquired him last offseason when they traded fan-favorite Derrick Brassard to the Ottawa Senators for him. His arrival was highly anticipated and with good reason. His performance was exceptional, which is why his cap hit should be a bit more than what he’s used to being paid.

Mika Zibanejad was great for the New York Rangers in 16-17. He brought more speed and more skill to the offense than they previously had, which fit perfectly with the Rangers’ style of play.

He suffered an injury in a shootout loss to the Florida Panthers on November 20th that put him out for about two months. Despite that, he managed to remain consistent for the team. (He even scored two goals in his first game back from the injury.)

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Current Contract:

Last off-season, Zibanejad signed a one-year contract with the Rangers worth $3.25 million dollars. Compare this to the entry-level contract he signed with the Senators at $2 million. The 24-year-old talented forward is already making a name for himself in New York.

Currently, he is one of the lowest paid forwards on the team. However, there are two factors that come into play that will most likely ensure him more money moving forward.

Price Range:

Here are the two factors that influence Zibanejad’s price range. The second might be more important than the first, taking into account the recent moves the Rangers have made.

The first thing to consider is the numbers he put up in his first season with the team. It was an unexpected trade, but he managed it nicely and found his stride rather fast. He scored 14 goals and 23 assists in 56 games played.

The second thing is the pivotal role he plays for the Rangers, now that Oscar Lindberg and Derek Stepan are gone. The team needs reliable, young, fast centers. It’s what their system is built on.

Based on those points, his price range should be from about $3.5M to $4M. Factoring in his age, as well, it would be wise to get as many years possible out of him now. That said, the contract should be offered for about three to four years.

Why Zibanejad is Worth It:

There’s a boatload of reasons why the Rangers are in serious need of Zibanejad. Not someone like Zibanejad, but specifically Zibanejad. He’s what they have to show for giving up a reliable center in “Big-Game-Brass” Brassard.

As mentioned, he is only 24 and may just be entering his prime. Even with the injury, he averaged .66 points per game. Compared to Brassard, who played in nearly every game with the Senators in the regular season (81), he was much more consistent–Brassard only tallied .48 points per game in 16-17. Zibanejad also put up more points when the teams went head-to-head in the second round of the 2017 Playoffs.

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Overall, he’s a smart player that’s developing his skills with a talented group of forwards in the New York Rangers. He might end up costing more than the team wants to pay, but he’s definitely worth it in the long run.