Another arbitration case hearing pushed to the side, as the New York Rangers and forward Mika Zibanejad have agreed on a new 5-year, $26.75 million deal on Tuesday morning.
The 24-year old Swede was a pretty good fit with the Rangers in the 2017 season, after being acquired in a trade from Ottawa last summer, playing in 56 games for his new club, scoring 14 goals and 37 points, finishing 226th overall in hockey pool scoring, 154th among all forwards. It was a shame that he missed out on 26 games, due to injury, 25 of those games to a broken leg.
The new deal shows the player that he does have value within the organization and he appears to be one of those pieces that they feel comfortable building around. The Rangers are going to be a slightly different looking club, with Derek Stepan and Dan Girardi out already and Kevin Shattenkirk, among other small additions, in for the coming year. Bringing back Zibanejad into the fold officially ensures they have one of the bigger pieces for the coming year ready to go on time and the Rangers have only minor league pieces to deal with before the end of the summer.
|Rick Nash||7.800||Kevin Shattenkirk||6.650||Henrik Lundqvist||8.500|
|Mika Zibanejad||5.350||Marc Staal||5.700||Ondrej Pavelec||1.300|
|Chris Kreider||4.625||Ryan McDonagh||4.700|
|Mats Zuccarello||4.500||Brendan Smith||4.350|
|J.T. Miller||2.750||Nick Holden||1.650|
|Jesper Fast||1.850||Brady Skjei||0.925|
|Michael Grabner||1.600||Anthony DeAngelo||0.863|
With the chance of some minor changes made to this projected 23-man roster, the Rangers should have plenty of salary cap space to work with, if needed. I currently have the Rangers with a little over $2.8 million in cap space today, with the roster above. Forward Nicklas Jensen appears to be the only RFA left on their list that has a decent shot at a roster spot out of camp, if he gets his deal done in time.
The Rangers appear to be loading up from the back end with the inclusion of Shattenkirk to their roster moving forward, as the loss of Stepan, replaced really by only David Desharnais, leaves a little to be desired, in terms of scoring confidence. Sure, they opened up the cap space for their prized new defenseman, but I don't think we've seen enough game-changing in Shattenkirk to suggest that he'll make the biggest difference for the Rangers this season. Only time will tell, I suppose.