Rangers fans should be used to this by now. In recent history it started with Dubinsky, then Callahan. Now, it’s Derick Brassard as the latest fan favorite that the front office moves on from. It’s easy to hate this trade with your immediate gut reaction. On top of his status amongst the Blueshirt faithful, there’s a few other names we’d all love to see traded before Brass – so the fact it’s not Girardi, Staal or even Nash is a bummer. Plus – who the FUCK is Mika Zibanejad? Not exactly a household name. Or a pronounceable one. Well, you’re gonna love him. I promise. This is far from a “rebuilding” move.
Zibanejad was the 6th overall pick in 2011. 6’2″ 222 pounds & just 23 years old. He put up a 50-point season last year, won over half of 1300 draws & contributed on both special teams. Kid can skate, isn’t afraid to use his body & potted 7 game-winners. Zib & Brass had almost identical seasons. Brassard’s offensive game is a little more seasoned but Zibanejad is the 200-foot player the Rangers need & his game hasn’t even peaked. So without losing much on the ice the Blueshirts got almost 6 years younger, knocked over $2M off their books & brought in a second-rounder to boot. You can’t ask for anything more out of Jeff Gorton. Well done.
Zibanejad will be an RFA next year & undoubtedly due a raise – somewhere around Brassard’s current $5M/year deal to lock up long-term. And that’s fine. I’d much rather pay Brassard money to a 24 year-old version that’s got upside & a defensive skill set. For as much as I loved Brass, it’s hard to have a pair of players in your top 6 (along with Zucc) that AV’s gotta try his best to keep apart because of their defensive zone deficiencies. He was a heart guy for sure & you can question what may happen to chemistry if you want – but the Rangers needed a shakeup & are better today than yesterday. Imagine a line with Zib, Kreider (I believe this means a long-term deal for him is coming) & JT Miller? Wrecking Ball City & none over 25.
The Rangers have signed JT Miller & Dylan McIlrath. A Hayes contract similar to JT’s is most likely just a matter of time while Kreider is the last “interesting” piece where anything can happen. Still, not much has happened on the back end & it seems the team is convinced Girardi was injured/had an off-year. Never considered buying him out & are confident he’ll bounce back. Alrighty then. Unless there’s a surprise coming, it looks like the Blueshirts will be replacing Yandle & Boyle with Skjei & Nick Holden. I love Brady Skjei, but I think they’re gonna have to do better than that. I’m not gonna let that spoil today though. Very smart move. Looking forward to Zibanejamania.