On July 18th, 2016, the New York Rangers made a brave trade when they sent Derrick Brassard to the Ottawa Senators with a 7th-round pick in exchange for an underperforming Swedish centerman and a 2nd-round pick. This trade will be a great trade tree someday, but for now, I want to focus on the player the Rangers got back. That was Mika Zibanejad, who recently played in his 500th game for the iconic organization.
During his time with the Rangers, Zibanejad has scored 206 goals and 259 assists for 465 points. Zibanejad has become a crutch for this Rangers system. His dynamic shot on the powerplay and his link-up ability with Chris Kreider have seen the Swedish centerman become one of the best centermen in the NHL year after year. The Rangers have relied upon the Swede for years at this point.
Many people have recently started to talk about his lack of 5-on-5 production. Indeed, Mika hasn’t been off to the hottest of starts. He’s been underwhelming, with three even-strength points making up his ten total. There’s little denying that the Rangers will need more from their first-line center before they can contend for the Stanley Cup in the summer. Mika will need to be a big part of the team’s success at that time.
For now, we have a lot of memories to talk about when it comes to the Huddinge, Sweden native. As a player who has destroyed entire seasons from organizations on his own in the past, perhaps nothing embodies this trait better than his four-goal games against the Philadelphia Flyers over the years. We have all his career’s incredible goals, assists, and celebrations in the blue on Broadway.
Across his eight-year stint with the Rangers, Zibanejad has seen himself tally 41 goals in the 57 games he played in 2019-20 when the world shut down. He’s also reached 30 goals on two other occasions. He reached 90 points for the first time in his career last season when he put up 91. Even at 30, Zibanejad seems to be improving, which is a good sign for Peter Laviolette and the staff behind the bench for the Rangers.