The New York Rangers don’t have any big-name unrestricted free brokers this offseason, however Mika Zibanejad is about to turn into one after the 2021-22 season. The workforce’s star middle went by way of an enormous stoop early within the season after recovering from coronavirus however broke out of it in a giant approach and ended up main the Rangers in targets this season. After years of looking for a real No. 1 middle, he developed into the participant the Blueshirts had been searching for. His play warrants a giant contract extension and given the group’s lack of depth at middle, it’s essential that they re-sign him.
Zibanejad’s Dominant 2019-20 Season
After Zibanejad was slowed by injuries in his first few seasons with New York, he stayed wholesome in the course of the 2018-19 season and completed with 30 goals and 44 assists. Each had been profession highs on the time and he constructed on that season’s success in the course of the 2019-20 season.
Zibanejad acquired off to a sizzling begin, however suffered an upper-body damage that stored him out of the lineup for a month. He didn’t present rust as soon as he returned and he continued to play properly. Along with producing offensively, he was glorious defensively and one of many Rangers’ finest penalty killers.
Late within the season, Zibanejad went on a tear offensively and no participant within the NHL was hotter when the coronavirus pandemic introduced the season to a halt. He had 24 targets and 16 assists in his final 25 video games of the season, together with 5 targets in a victory towards the Washington Capitals.
Zibanejad completed the 2019-20 season with 41 goals and 34 assists in simply 57 video games. If not for the pandemic, he would’ve had a shot at scoring 50 targets regardless of lacking a month as a consequence of damage. He led the Rangers in power-play targets with 15 and in shorthanded targets with three.
Zibanejad’s 2020-21 Season
The begin to this season was disastrous for Zibanejad as he regarded a step slower and his timing was off early on. In his first 25 video games, he had simply three targets and 6 assists, however he broke out of his slump in a giant approach in a victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. In that recreation, he had three targets and three assists within the second interval. He scored a pure hat trick with one aim coming shorthanded, one other on the ability play and one at even energy.
After his breakout efficiency, he performed the best way he did in the course of the 2019-20 season and was as soon as once more one of many Rangers’ finest gamers. In his last 31 video games, he had 21 goals and 20 assists. He helped the Blueshirts make a push for the postseason, however they finally got here up brief.
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Even when he was struggling, Zibanejad was glorious defensively, and late within the season he grew to become one in all New York’s greatest threats on the ability play because of his highly effective slap shot.
For the Rangers
The Rangers haven’t had a middle who has produced offensively the best way Zibanejad has since Michael Nylander in the course of the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons; nonetheless, Nylander performed alongside Jaromir Jagr, which boosted his numbers fairly a bit. Zibanejad has spent nearly all of the previous few seasons taking part in alongside Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich, who’re each superb, however actually not superstars like Jagr was.
It’s very troublesome to search out high facilities, and now that the Rangers have one in Zibanejad, they should attempt to maintain on to him. He’s an all-around participant who remains to be simply 28 years outdated, and he’s much more precious to the workforce as a result of they don’t have a lot depth at middle. Ryan Strome is the one different established middle on the workforce, and although Filip Chytil has proven promise, he has won just 39.6 percent of faceoffs to date in his profession, which makes it troublesome to belief him.
With just one year remaining on Zibanejad’s contract, it could be an enormous threat to not re-sign him now and face the potential for both dropping him in free company or being pressured to commerce him proper earlier than the commerce deadline. Zibanejad’s growth and robust play make him worthy of a giant contract and the Rangers want to ensure they maintain on to their finest middle as they appear to transition from rebuilding to contending.
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, rooting for the Rangers, Yankees, Giants, and Knicks. When my dream of taking part in shortstop for the Yankees fell brief, I began writing about sports activities as a substitute. I’m a proud graduate of the Philip Merrill Faculty of Journalism on the College of Maryland.