The New York Rangers head into the season with a lot of skilled players.
We are talking about players like Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, Adam Fox, Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko, Alexis Lafreniere, K’Andre Miller, and so on and so forth. Heck, even guys like Vincent Trocheck and Blake Wheeler play with their own blend of skill.
With that said, while it will be great for the Blueshirts if all of the above-mentioned players make significant contributions this season, this team will once again center around the play of forward Mika Zibanejad. There are several reasons for this.
For starters, he is one of the team’s most consistent point producers. Zibanejad, 30, finished second on the team in scoring last season, one point behind Panarin.
With that said, Zibanejad has been consistently productive for the Blueshirts since the 2018-19 season. Just take a look at his numbers from that season through last year:
– 2018-19: 30 goals and 44 assists for 74 points in 82 games
– 2019-20: 41 goals and 34 assists for 75 points in 57 games
– 2020-21: 24 goals and 26 assists for 50 points in 56 games
– 2021-22: 29 goals and 52 assists for 81 points in 81 games
– 2022-23: 39 goals and 52 assists for 91 points in 82 games
Clearly, Zibanejad knows how to produce on a consistent basis. Zibanejad will have to be the same way this season if the Blueshirts want to have success.
Secondly, Zibanejad plays in all situations. He averaged close to 20 minutes of ice time per game last season, and it is easy to see why.
Zibanejad is a key contributor to the team’s power play. He had 39 power play points last season and is expected to once again be a key cog with the man advantage this year.
He is also relied on to kill penalties. He can block shots, break up plays, get the puck out of the zone, and create scoring chances on the rush in a smart way.
He also gets put out on the ice when the team needs a big goal. Zibanejad scored five game-winning goals last season, which was tied for the team lead with Fox.
Lastly, Zibanejad is a leader in every sense of the word for this hockey club. He prouces, battles, and sacrifices and does so with passion and a smile on his face.
The Rangers will go as far as Zibanejad can take them this season.