Rangers extend Zibanejad, likely due to Eichel draw

Consider the Rangers essentially out of Jack Eichel’s commercial market, and Mika Zibanejad definitely not towards free agency. The Rangers confirmed to have signed a contract extension with Zibanejad on Sunday.

Although Rangers have not confirmed the actual details, several reporters say Zibanejad has signed an eight-year extension. The ceiling reached would be $ 8.5 million.

For the 2021-22 season, Zibanejad carries a cap of $ 5.35 million. Zibanejad’s expansion then raises its cap to $ 8.5 million from 2022 to 2023. It’s a worthwhile investment in Zibanejad, given he’s 28 years old.

Zibanejad certainly seemed delighted to be staying with Rangers:

With Adam Fox entering a year on contract, the Rangers still face challenges when it comes to salary caps. But no squeeze will apparently cost the Rangers the ultra-skilled Zibanejad.

The good and bad of the Rangers Zibanejad expansion

Again, it’s important to remember that Zibanejad still has one year left on his current contract. He’ll be 29 once that extension goes into effect, costing the Rangers that $ 8.5 million clip from 2022-2023 to 2029-30.

No doubt, the Rangers hope Zibanejad ages well.

They must also hope that Zibanejad remains in good health.

Last season, Zibanejad played all 56 games, scoring 24 goals and 50 points. In 2019-2020, he played 57 of 70 games, but had 41 goals and 75 points. Injuries also limited Zibanejad in his first Rangers season (56 GP in 2016-17).

Thanks to these injuries, we sometimes wondered what could have been.

[2021 NHL Free Agent Tracker]

These fewer reps also make it harder to accommodate concerns about style of play. If he loses a step, could the red flags on the underlying stats turn into woes on the ice?

Honestly, the Rangers’ decision to give Zibanejad an extension mostly makes sense. Simply put, high-end centers don’t grow on trees. For all the luck in the draw the Rangers took advantage of, their best young players were mostly wingers or defensemen.

All things considered, many expected Zibanejad to get a raise of over $ 8.5 million. So, there might be slight savings there. The length of the deal always makes it a big, big risk.

Rangers to sign Fox, other young stars; The salary cap fills up

And, not so far from a full-fledged rebuild, the Rangers salary cap structure is now teeming with long-term contracts.

  • Zibanejad, 28, is now locked up for nine seasons.
  • Artemi Panarin, 29, has a cap of $ 11.64 million until 2025-2026.
  • Jacob Trouba, 27, also costs $ 8 million a year for five seasons (2025-2026). He quietly bounced back a bit last season, but it’s still a yuck.
  • Should the Rangers have taken the lead in trading Chris Kreider on his last contract? That idea could bubble if the 30-year-old’s rugged style makes his contract (cap of $ 6.5 million, expiring after 2026-2027) rotten.
  • It’s understandable that the Rangers signed Igor Shesterkin, a promising keeper. If the 25-year-old delivers like he’s already done, that $ 5.6667million cap could be a deal with the devil. It’s a bet being that he only recorded 47 games at the NHL level, however.
  • If Barclay Goodrow is playing the same supporting role he played at Tampa Bay, his contract might seem a little extravagant. The 28-year-old carries a cap of $ 3.641 million until 2026-2027.
  • It’s at least interesting that the Rangers spent $ 5.5 million on Ryan Lindgren and Patrik Nemeth for the next three seasons.

phew. It’s… a lot, isn’t it? At least for a team that still hasn’t returned to the playoffs since that letter of rebuilding was sent?

[Rangers among teams facing the most pressure this season]

Then factor in future expenses.

Adam Fox, 23, is entering a contract year this season. As the reigning Norris Trophy winner, Fox must aim for Cale Makar’s $ 9 million AAV – and that could be low end. The Rangers are lucky that it’s a pending tender with no right to arbitration, but expect a big price there.

The two recent Rangers lottery wins are difficult to assess.

Kaapo Kakko is also entering a contract year in 2021-22. After a tough rookie season, Kakko has shown underlying signs of growth in 2020-21. There is at least one argument that the Rangers might want to extend Kakko before he really blossoms.

Two years from his contract, Alexis Lafrenière is another question mark. At the earliest, the Rangers could extend Lafrenière following this season. Could he enjoy a big breakthrough this season? It is certainly possible.

There’s also K’Andre Miller (two years left), Vitali Kravtsov (contract year), Ryan Strome (contract year) and others to consider.

[Rangers’ 2021-22 season preview]

If the mix of quality top players from Rangers (Zibanejad, Panarin) mixes with these young talents, then they will increase rapidly. However, if it turns out that they need more? The compression can be tight enough that it is difficult to make all but the smallest improvements.

Ready or not, Zibanejad’s extension signals the Rangers are spending like contenders again.

James o’brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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