With the loss of center Derek Stepan via trade earlier this summer, the New York Rangers wanted to clear up cap space and have the ability to sign key players long term to aid in upcoming seasons. That certainly paid off as the team re-signed Mika Zibanejad on Tuesday morning to a five-year deal worth $5.3 million annually.
Zibanejad was acquired by the Rangers last summer in a blockbuster deal that sent Derick Brassard to the Ottawa Senators. The 24-year-old Swede had an impressive first season in New York. In fifty-six games played, he had a total of 37 points (14 goals and 23 assists) as well as nine points in twelve playoff games for the Blueshirts. Zibanejad was chosen by the Ottawa Senators as the sixth overall pick in the first round of the 2011 NHL draft.
This deal came at an arbitration meeting because both parties could not reach a mutual agreement in terms of pay. Zibanejad originally wanted $5.35 million (what he eventually received) and the Rangers were only offering $4.1 million, so action had to take place.
The team has now signed Zibanejad, defensemen Brendan Smith and Kevin Shattenkirk, as well as backup goalie Ondrej Pavelec. With the slew of moves this summer, Jeff Gorton could possibly be giving his team a long-awaited Stanley Cup victory next June.