The Rangers’ goal this off-season was to get younger and cheaper. So far, they have failed in that endeavor.
In a move that’s supposed to give cap relief and also help the club on Broadway at the same time, the Rangers sent center Derick Brassard and a 2018 seventh round pick to the Ottawa Senators for Mika Zibanejad and a 2018 second round pick.
Zibanejad, 23, skated in 81 games this past season, registering 21 goals and 30 assists for 51 points, along with 18 penalty minutes. He established career-highs in several categories in 2015-16, including games played, goals, assists, points, game-winning goals (seven), and faceoff win percentage (50.5; 659-for-1,306). Zibanejad has tallied a goal on 13 of his 28 career NHL shootout attempts (46.4%), and he has recorded five game-deciding goals in the shootout. Zibanejad’s five game-deciding goals in the shootout are the second-most a Senator has tallied since 2005-06, as he passed Daniel Alfredsson for sole possession of second place during this past season.
Zibanejad led the Senators in game-winning goals, faceoff wins, and faceoffs taken, ranked third in shorthanded goals (two), tied for third in games played, tied for fourth in assists, and ranked fifth in points and power play points (11) in 2015-16. He tied for fifth in the NHL in shootout goals (four; 4-for-9) and game-deciding goals (two) in the shootout this past season. Zibanejad ranked third among Ottawa forwards in shorthanded ice time per game in 2015-16 (1:25). He tallied 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 24 contests against Metropolitan Division opponents this past season. Zibanejad recorded 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists) in the final 38 games of the season, and he ranked second on Ottawa in goals over the span.
Brassard, who came to the Rangers on April 3, 2013 as part of the Marian Gaborik deal scored 174 points (69 goals and 105 assists) in his three and a half years on Broadway and led the Rangers with 27 goals last season. He just finished the second season of a five-year, $25 million contract, with an annual cap hit of $5 million which he signed after the summer of 2014.
Zibanejad, meanwhile, is scheduled to make $2.625 million this season and will be an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent after the season.