NewYork Rangers, Mika Zibanejad agree to 8-year contract extension

New York Rangers announced on Sunday morning that the club has agreed to terms with center Mike Zibanejad on an eight-year contract extension.

General manager and president Chris Drury made the announcement New York Rangers fans have been waiting for, the club has agreed to term on an eight-year extension with Mika Zibanejad.

“Since joining the team in 2016, Mika has emerged as one of the premier players in the NHL,” Drury said via an NYR press release. “In addition to being a great player on the ice, Mika is an exemplary person off of the ice. We are fortunate to have him as part of our Rangers organization and are excited that he will continue his career in New York.”

Larry Brooks of the New York Post is reporting that the AAV is in the $8.85million range.

Zibanejad, 28, skated in 56 games with the Rangers last season, registering 24 goals and 26 assists for 50 points, along with 18 penalty minutes. He led the Rangers in goals, game-winning goals (seven), and shots on goal (171), and ranked second on the team in points in 2020-21.

The 6-2, 200-pounder has skated in 604 career NHL games over parts of 10 seasons (2011-12 – 2020-21) with Ottawa and the Rangers, registering 200 goals and 234 assists for 434 points, along with 173 penalty minutes. Zibanejad has played five seasons with the Blueshirts (2016-17 – 2020-21), tallying 136 goals and 147 assists for 283 points in 323 games. He has skated in 31 postseason games in his NHL career, registering five goals and 14 assists for 19 points. In addition, the Stockholm, Sweden native will represent his country at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Zibanejad was acquired by the Rangers from Ottawa on July 18, 2016. He was originally selected by the Senators in the first round, sixth overall, of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Eichel Rumors Put To Rest

This most likely means the team is out of the Jack Eichel sweepstakes. The Rangers have been the team mentioned in most trade rumors s the Buffalo Sabres are looking to move their former captain. The AAV Zibanejad will be reportingly making would make it impossible for the Blueshirts to carry the $10 mollion AAV that Eichel’s contract currently has.

Captain

The Ranger’s next big announcement is due in the coming days who will be their next captain.  The contract extension will now put Zibanelad’s name in the mix along with Chris Kreider and Jacob Trouba.

 

New York Rangers news and notes: Final roster remains undecided

The New York Rangers training camp is entering its last week and head coach Gerard Gallant still has some tough decisions to make to get his roster to 23 players.

The New York Rangers split their two games this weekend.  On Friday night the team was embarrassed in a 7-1 loss in New Jersey against the Devils. The Blueshirts rebounded the following night in Boston as they won that contest 4-3 in overtime.

The coaching staff along with general manager Chris Drury has been hard at work putting the pieces together they feel will bring the best results when the season begins in just 10 days.

Roster Moves

Prior to Friday’s game against the Devils, the club announced that following being placed on waivers Anthony Greco, Jonny Brodzinski, Ty Ronning, Tim Gettinger, Anthony Bitetto, and Keith Kinkaid to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL).

Sunday saw more moves as the Rangers begin to see how their team will look for the final two preseason games this week.

The team cut its training camp roster down to 27 players as Will Cuylle has been assigned to his junior team, the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), and Matthew Robertson, Braden Schneider, Lauri Pajuniemi, Tyler Wall, and Adam Huska have been assigned to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL).

The Rangers have 27 players remaining in Training Camp. The roster breakdown is listed below:

FORWARDS (16)

10 – Artemi Panarin
13 – Alexis Lafrenière
14 – Greg McKegg
15 – Julien Gauthier
16 – Ryan Strome
17 – Kevin Rooney
20 – Chris Kreider
21 – Barclay Goodrow
24 – Kaapo Kakko
29 – Dryden Hunt
47 – Morgan Barron
72 – Filip Chytil
74 – Vitali Kravtsov
75 – Ryan Reaves
91 – Sammy Blais
93 – Mika Zibanejad

DEFENSEMEN (9)

5 – Jarred Tinordi
6 – Zac Jones
8 – Jacob Trouba
12 – Patrik Nemeth
23 – Adam Fox
25 – Libor Hajek
55 – Ryan Lindgren
64 – Nils Lundkvist
79 – K’Andre Miller

GOALTENDERS (2)

31 – Igor Shesterkin
40 – Alexandar Georgiev

Upcoming Games

On Wednesday the Rangers will host the Devils at the Garden with a 7 p.m. faceoff. The preseason schedule concludes in Bridgeport, CT. where the team will play the Islanders.

Head coach Gallant still has not announced who the third defensive pairing will be or who the extra roster players will be once the season starts.  That should become clearer this week as the Blueshirts work out the kinks and fine-tune the team to be ready for opening night on Oct.13 in Washington.

New York Rangers: Training Camp -Day 1 news and notes

New York Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant made it through his first day of training camp on Thursday as the team prepares for its first preseason game Sunday at MSG.

The boys are back. The New York Rangers laced up their skates and participated in their first day of camp with Gerard Gallant at the helm.

The players were divided into three teams along with a  goalie team.

Line Combinations

Now let’s remember this was the first day of camp, and the combinations aren’t etched in stone. Here is what Gallant went with yesterday when Team one played Team two representing what could be the top two lines to start the season next month.

Kreider-Zibanejad-Lafreniere
Panarin-Strome-Kakko

Line combinations for team three looked like this;

Goodrow-Chytil-Kravtsov
Blais-Rooney-Reaves

Highlights of the day

Adam Fox stepped onto the ice wearing his familiar #23 but with “NORRIS” on the back of his sweater.

 

Some new faces and new numbers were skating in Tarrytown along with returning Blueshirts

Funny Tweet of the Day

Former Rangers captain and current ESPN broadcaster Ryan Callahan had a great Tweet that captured the real Blueshirt fan.

Death, taxes, and over thinking the line combination on day 1 of camp! Only sure things in life.

Great way to end day one of training camp!

New York Rangers: What to do with center Mika Zibanejad?

New York Rangers’ Mike Zibanejead is entering the final year of his contract with the Blueshirts. His future with the club may be in doubt depending on what the two sides are willing to give up to stay together.

Breaking up is hard to do.

In the case of Mika Zibanejaed and the New York Rangers, the two sides have a small amount of time to figure out what is in the best interest of both camps. Will the New York Rangers sign the pending UFA or ask him to waive his NMC and trade him prior to the NHL trade deadline?

A Little History

Zibanejad, then just 22 years old, was traded by the Ottawa Senators along with a 2018 second-round pick to the Rangers for Derrick Brassard and a 2018 seventh-round pick on July 18, 2016.

The young Swede had just recorded two consecutive 20 goals seasons for the Senators and now was headed to the Big Apple.

It was a trade the Rangers won from the onset. Over the next five seasons, Zibanjead flourished into a leader on the ice. He has played in 323 games in a Rangers sweater compiling 283 points, 136 G, 147 A, emerging into a New York Superstar.

For his career his stats display the improvement coachs’ and organizations strive to attain.  He has played in 604 games for both the Senators and the Rangers and in that time he has scored 200 goals and 4334 points. His best season was in 2018-2019 where he netted 30 goals with 74 points.

Zibanejad is a leader off the ice as well as mentoring the younger players in the locker room, on the road, and in practices.

Yet the question of what he is worth to this team, in a time of flat salary caps and trade rumors, has become a focal point during his offseason.

Contracts, Money, and Loyalty

The Rangers have been in the middle of the Jack Eichel sweepstakes for a few months now. Though no deal has been completed to trade for Eichel, the club has to be looking at what they would need financially to afford Eichel’s high AAV, $10 million for the next four seasons, and what to offer Zibanejad as he approaches a big contract year.

The Rangers have some big contracts to pay over the next several seasons.

Added to the equation is the fact that the club will have six players who will be restricted free agents, Adam Fox, Sam Blais, Vitali Kravtsov, Kappo Kakko, Julien Gauthier, and Alexandar Georgiev.

Zibanejad could ask for what would be considered a “hometown discount”, maybe in the neighborhood of $7 million per year for seven years?  Chris Kreider just signed a seven-year, $45 million contract that has an AAV of  $6.5 million. Zibanejad would want more than that, but how much is too much for the Rangers to payout?

If negotiations start out high and Zibanejad is looking at the $9-10 million per year kind of money, which he probably will, the Rangers won’t have that much time to make a decision should they ask him to waive his NMC.

The Jack Eichel drama has more of an influence on what will happen with Mika Zibanejad this season. If Eichel changes his address to Broadway he and his $10 million would almost certainly force Zibaenjead out the door.

Unless the Rangers think they can work out to have two $10 million dollar contracts without jeopardizing their future.

Touch Decisions

President and GM Chris Drury has to juggle a lot of pucks at one time with every conversation he has with his team and the Buffalo Sabres.

The pieces Drury trade the other way should a deal be completed has to involve talent and salary cap implications.  The best way to balance out some of the salary cap issues would be to move a player or players that would free up some space at the same time.

Ryan Strome’s name has been mentioned recently.  It makes sense as he also is a UFA after this season.

All of this has been ongoing without really knowing (we assume) what Zibanejad is looking for on his next contract.

Building a competitive team has plenty of components.  The hardest one to predict is where the GM believes his team will be two or three years from today. Transactions made now will influence how the team looks later on, but one thing is certain.

The future of the organization may be riding on a center hitting the prime of his career in Zibanejad and a gamble on a center who still needs surgery with a lot of potential in Jack Eichel.

New York Rangers Finish Season in Style with win over Boston

The New York Rangers could have just played out the season and left for vacation. Instead, the Blueshirts put in a strong effort in defeating the Boston Bruins 5-4 to wrap up their 2021 season.

Mika Zibanejad scored two of New York’s four third-period goals, and the Rangers ended their season by halting their five-game losing streak.

Keith Kinkaid made 28 saves before leaving with an injury midway into the third period. Igor Shesterkin finished up in goal with seven saves.

Alexis Lafreniere and Vitali Kravtsov also scored in a wild third when the Rangers overcame a 2-1 deficit. K’Andre Miller started the scoring with a goal in the first period. Pavel Buchnevich seemed a little snakebit with his puck shooting but did add three assists in the victory.

The victory will bolster the spirits of the New York Rangers

Heading into the offseason, the win against a playoff-bound Bruins team should help bolster the spirits of a young Rangers team.

That sentiment was echoed by Zibanejad in his post-game Zoom comments. “It means more than what you would think right now. Especially the way things have been going the whole season, especially the last 10 days or so, that’s been kind of crazy with the guys that are not here right now. The way we battled through it and get the win, that was good.”

In his post-game conference, head coach David Quinn noted that it was nice to give newly appointed general manager Chris Drury his first win. “I know all of us were very happy that we were able to get him that first one.”

After the firing of John Davidson and Jeff Gorton earlier in the week, it will be Quinn that decides which direction the franchise is heading, including on whether or not to retain Quinn as head coach.

Quinn also was pleased with the effort and the win stating that “it’s been difficult. It was great to finish the way we did.”

With the win, the Rangers will finish in fifth place in the NHL’s East division.

 

New York Rangers Cannot Solve the Shorthanded Washington Capitals

The New York Rangers could not take advantage of the Washington Capitals missing a handful of players, including one of the best in the NHL. The Capitals trailed by one late in the second period but rallied to defeat the Blueshirts 6-3.

With Boston winning earlier, the Rangers have been eliminated from the playoffs.

The Capitals were missing a few players, including Alex Ovechkin, who only skated one shift in the first period before leaving the ice. Washington later announced that he would not return due to a lower-body injury.

Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Samsonov also missed Monday’s game for disciplinary reasons while T.J. Oshie was out for a personal family matter.

Mika Zibanejad scored twice for the Rangers while Kappo Kakko added their third goal. Artemi Panarin had assists on Zibanejad’s goals.

The New York Rangers have a scrum with the Capitals Tom Wilson

Things got interesting in the second period when Capitals forward Tom Wilson was handed three penalties in the second quarter. One of the penalties was a 10-minute penalty for misconduct, after roughing Artemi Panarin and going after Pavel Buchnevich in the crease after play had stopped. This included a few punches in the back of the head while Buchnevich was face down.

Panarin had a cut above the eye and appeared to have hit his head on the ice in the scuffle. He did not return at the start of the third period.

After the game, Zibanedjad had this to say about the Wilson incident: “You should have more respect for the game and the players. I honestly don’t know where to start. It’s just horrible, zero respect.”

Head coach David Quinn also shared his thoughts on the incident in his post-game Zoom conference. “There are lines that can’t be crossed in this game. It’s just zero respect for the game. You have one of the star players in this game who could have been seriously, seriously hurt. It’s totally unnecessary.”

The two teams will play again on Wednesday at MSG.

 

 

 

New York Rangers face the Washington Capitals as playoff elimination nears

The New York Rangers face the Washington Capitals Monday night mathematically still in the playoff hunt but realistically looking towards next season.

Rangers: 26-20-6 (58 pts)
Capitals: 32-14-5 (69 pts

With only four games reaming in the regular season, the New York Rangers welcome the Capitals to MSG Monday night. The Blueshirts will try to rebound following two horrific games against the Islanders where they were shut out in both contests.

The Numbers

The Rangers are 6-4 in their last ten games, 3-3 in their last six games, and currently have lost their last 2 consecutive games.

Power Play:

  • The Rangers were 0-for-2 (4:00) on May 1 at NY Islanders.
  • New York is tied for 13th in the NHL in power-play efficiency this season (21.1%).
  • The Rangers have recorded a power-play goal in three of the last five games (4-for-12; 33.3%).
  • The Blueshirts have tallied eight power-play goals in the last nine games (8-for-25; 32.0%) and 20 power-play goals in the last 22 games (20-for-62; 32.3%).
  • Since Mar. 22, the Rangers’ 32.3% power play efficiency is the second-best in the NHL.
  • New York ranks third in the NHL in power-play opportunities in 2020-21 (171).r

Penalty Kill:

  • The Rangers were 1-for-1 (2:00) on May 1 at NY Islanders.
  • The Blueshirts have not allowed a power-play goal in 30 of the last 45 games (111-for-130; 85.4%), including 24 of the last 38 games (89-for-107; 83.2%).
  • The Rangers have killed off 114 of their opponents’ 134 power-play opportunities over the last 46 games (85.1%) and have held their opponents to only 174 shots on goal during their opponents’ 134 power-play opportunities over the span.
  • New York ranks seventh in the NHL in penalty kill efficiency this season (83.1%).
  • The Rangers are tied for second in the NHL in shorthanded goals in 2020-21 (eight).
  • Since Jan. 30, the Rangers’ 85.4% penalty kill efficiency is tied for the second-best in the NHL.

Since Mar. 17, several Rangers are among the NHL’s leaders in various categories:

  • Mika Zibanejad’s 17 goals are tied for the most in the NHL and his 35 points are the second-most in the NHL.
  • Adam Fox’s 29 assists are the most in the NHL, his plus-18 rating is tied for the second-best in the NHL, and his 32 points are the fifth-most in the NHL.
  • Artemi Panarin’s 23 assists are the third-most in the NHL and his 34 points are tied for the third-most in the NHL.
  • Ryan Strome’s 22 assists are tied for the fourth-most in the NHL.

The Adam Fox Effect

Adam Fox tied for the NHL lead in assists in April after leading the NHL in assists in March. According to NHL Stats and Information, he was the first defenseman who either led the NHL or tied for the NHL lead in assists in two consecutive calendar months since Paul Coffey in February and March of 1984. Fox leads NHL defensemen in points (47) and assists (42), ranks third in takeaways (33) and is tied for 10th in plus/minus rating (plus-20) in 2020-21. He has recorded 47 points and a plus-20 rating in 51 games this season after recording 42 points and a plus-22 rating in 70 games last season; only one defenseman in NHL history has recorded 40 or more points and a plus-20 rating or better in each of his first two seasons (Bourque). Fox is averaging 0.82 assists per game this season, which would be the seventh-most by a Rangers defenseman in one season (min. two games played) in franchise history (Leetch – 1.00 in 1991-92; Zubov – 0.99 in 1993-94; Leetch – 0.90 in 1990-91; Leetch – 0.85 in 1995-96; Leetch – 0.83 in 1992-93; Park – 0.83 in 1972-73). According to NHL Stats and Information, only seven defensemen in NHL history have averaged at least 0.80 assists per game in a season while 23 years old or younger (min. 50 games played): Orr (3x), Coffey (3x), Leetch (2x), Zubov, Suter, Potvin, and Bourque. Fox won the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award this season.

UPCOMING MILESTONES

  • Pavel Buchnevich – 2 games away from 300 in his NHL career/with the Rangers.
  • Phillip Di Giuseppe – 2 games away from 200 in his NHL career.
  • Mika Zibanejad – 4 goals away from 200 in his NHL career.

The Rangers will conclude their home regular-season schedule on Wednesday night when they host the Washington Capitals.  The Blueshirts will then travel to the Boston Bruins for the last two games of the regular season with games on May 6 and May 8.

Stats provided by NYR PR.

Follow Frank on Twitter @RangerProud

New York Rangers Overcome Sluggish Start to Defeat the Sabres

Igor Shesterkin made 36 saves, and the New York Rangers keep pace in the East Division playoff race with a 3-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres.

In the playoff race, the Rangers are still four points behind the Bruins, who defeated the Penguins on Tuesday night. However, the Blueshirts are now just five points behind the New York Islanders, who fell to Washington. The Rangers and Islanders play in a home-and-home series on Thursday and Saturday.

Brendan Smith put the Rangers in front 1-0 at 2:22 of the second period. The Sabres tied the game on a Sam Reinhart goal.

Alexis Lafreniere broke a tie in the third period for the Rangers, who won their third straight to sweep the two-game series.

Mika Zibanejad extended the lead to 3-1 on a power play at 13:49 of the third period.

Ryan Strome picked up two assists in the game, which gave him his 300th career NHL point.

With Zibanejad’s goal, the Rangers are the only NHL team that has five players (Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox, Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich and Ryan Strome) who have recorded at least 44 points in 2020-21.

Lafreniere nets game-winner to help keep the New York Rangers in the playoff race.

Lafreniere talked about his game-winning goal during his post-game interview. “It was a great forecheck by our line. Stromer made a nice pass and I just tried to shoot it as quick as I could and was lucky enough to go in. Great play by my linemates.”

Per the NHL Public Relations, Lafrenière is the fifth teenager who has recorded 10+ goals in a season in Ranger history.

“The fact that we won six games from the Devils and Sabres is no small feat”, head coach David Quinn said in his post-game Zoom conference. “It’s the National Hockey League and it is not easy to beat teams.”

On the Lafreniere goal, Quinn said, “It was important that he scored that goal because of the circumstances. He’s really played well lately. He’s played really well in the last month. People have made a big deal about his stats earlier in the season but he has had a really good rookie year.”

The Rangers have won nine of their last 11 home games and have also earned at least one point in 11 of its last 13 home games.

 

 

Zibanejad’s Hat Trick Propels the New York Rangers to Victory

The New York Rangers got another hat trick from Mika Zibanejad as the Blueshirts defeated the Buffalo Sabres 6-3. Kappo Kakko added two goals and Adam Fox contributed three assists to help keep the Ranger’s playoff hopes alive.

The Rangers are now only four points behind the Boston Bruins for the last spot in the playoffs. However, the Bruins have also played two fewer games.

Zibanejad is the only player so far in the NHL who has recorded three hat tricks this season. The Rangers are also the only team in the NHL who has recorded six hat tricks in a season. Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich have added the other ones. He completed the hat trick at 2:05 of the second period, giving the Rangers a 4-1 lead with a shot through the legs of Buffalo goalie Dustin Tokarski.

Kakko scored his first goal with a one-timer from the right circle off a diagonal pass by Fox from the top of the left circle at 12:02 of the first period. His second tally came on a power-play goal to make it 5-2 at 7:06 of the third period. Zac Jones had an assist for his first NHL point.

Kevin Rooney added a shorthanded empty-net goal at 19:05 of the third period for the 6-3 final.

The New York Rangers have won six out of their last eight games

Zibanejad was more focused on what his team accomplished instead of what he did during his post-game interview. “I thought we did what we had to do today. They (Buffalo) made it hard on us.” He also credited his teammate’s passing for most of what he accomplished in the game.

Head coach David Quinn discussed the keys to his team’s success during his post-game Zoom conference. “We need to keep playing meaningful hockey until someone tells us that these games are no longer meaningful. But we need to learn how to manage a hockey game and understanding the score. We have guys that are offensively driven but we are better when we don’t have to force offense. When we find that balance, we are a dangerous team.”

The Rangers and the Sabers will square off again at MSG on Tuesday night with a 7 p.m. puck drop.

 

 

 

 

 

The New York Rangers are Finally Getting to see Lafreniere’s Potential

Ever since that New York Rangers ping-pong ball jumped up from the NHL’s lottery machine, people have been waiting for Alexis Lafreniere to show the hockey skills that an overall number one pick should show.

On Thursday night, head coach David Quinn shuffled his lines and put the overall number one pick on the top line with Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich. On Friday, that move paid off big dividends as all three players on the line had two points in the 4-1 win over the Flyers. Lafreniere had a goal and an assist for his two points.

After Friday’s game, Quinn talked about the move and Lafreniere’s development. “One of the things I think has happened to him is he understands how to create offense at this level right now better than he did maybe a month ago,”

So what took so long?

The pandemic hindered the young New York Rangers’ development.

Lafreniere got off to a little bit of a slow start to the season, something that is not really anyone’s fault. The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic threw a huge monkey wrench into the plans, including the New York Rangers.

Before Lafreniere hit the ice for training camp in January, the last time he skated in a meaningful game was in March of 2020. Those games came in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Good hockey of course, but it is a league for players under 20 years old. It is not the NHL.

The Rangers could have decided to let Lafreniere play in the World Junior Championships in December. Much to the dismay of some Ranger fans and the entire country of Canada, the Rangers decided to have their top draft pick sit the tournament out. It was a move that looked a lot better after the Chicago Blackhawks lost one of their top young players in Kirby Dach before the tournament even started.

All of this meant that Lafreniere had to acclimate himself to the NHL with an abbreviated training camp that included no exhibition games.

Of course, it should have taken him a little longer to get up to speed.

Lafreniere’s progress will more than likely carry over to next season

Lafreniere talked about his progression and development in his post-game Zoom conference Friday night. “I’m making a lot more plays, I think, and I kind of found my game a little bit but still need to get better. That’s what I’ll try to do for the rest of the season.”

Part of the reason that very few think that he will continue to improve quite a bit is that Lafreniere has an excellent work ethic, something that his coach has definitely noticed. “I think his effort has been elevated to an NHL level'” Quinn said Friday night. “I think that’s the biggest thing players have to learn when they get to this level. There’s a whole new definition of hard work, and I think that’s something that he’s embraced and he realizes it, and it’s allowed him to have a lot more success here over the last few weeks.”

After that slow start, Lafreniere now has nine goals and seven assists on the season. As much as playing with Zibanejad and Buchnevich can help development, it will also mean that he should see more ice time. Before the promotion, Lafreniere was on the third line, a line that did not see as much recently as Quinn leaned on his first two lines in an attempt to keep the Rangers firmly in the playoff hunt.

But as the season winds down, the New York Rangers will look for ways to continue to develop Lafreniere and all of their young players so that they will all hit the 2021-22 season in full stride.