Mika Zibanejad: Just what the doctor ordered

October 19, 2016, by


Jeff Gorton may have landed his first trade theft as Rangers GM. Gorton has made many solid moves since replacing Glen Sather (as well as a couple of questionable ones but I digress…) and while it is perhaps premature to make bold statements, Mika Zibanejad is making Gorton look quite the savvy General Manager.

On the face of things, the Brassard/ Zibanejad deal should have an element of win/win for both sides. After all, Derick Brassard will be a solid player for the Senators, at least in the short term. However, even forgetting about the draft pick or financial elements the Rangers took advantage of, it’s the added dimension Zibanejad is giving the Rangers that makes this such an exciting deal for Rangers fans. That dimension is a much better, more dangerous powerplay for the long term.

The Rangers haven’t had an Ovechkin-esque shooter with the extra man for a long time and we’re seeing Zibanejad set up shop in the same areas as Ovechkin is known for and be willing to just fire away and create havoc for opponents with his lethal shot.

Sometimes it’s the mere threat of Ovechkin that has teams scrambling against the Capitals powerplay and, while Zibanejad cannot reasonably be compared to one of the greatest goalscorers of this (and any) NHL era, he could potentially have the same effect for the Rangers. I will be the first to admit, while I knew Zibanejad was a good prospect who was trending in the right direction I never realised his shot was such a weapon.

In theory, running an effective powerplay should be simple. Create traffic, get shots on net, generate rebounds, move the puck quickly to the open man etc. etc. In practice, it’s not so easy. Zibanejad is helping the Rangers improve their powerplay thanks to his dangerous shot. He’s bringing so many aspects of a dangerous, successful powerplay to the table. The Brandon Pirri powerplay goal against the Islanders in the season opener was exhibit A of the Mika effect.

Thanks to Zibanejad’s strong shot which created a juicy rebound, and the net presence of Chris Kreider, the Rangers cashed in on the powerplay against the Isles. Watch the play unfold. The shot started the whole sequence of events and while Kreider’s beautiful no look pass to Brandon Pirri was critical to the goal, it all starts with Zibanejad unloading.

It’s Zibanejad willingness to shoot so often, not just the quality of his shot, that is so refreshing. The Rangers for too long have had a pass happy powerplay unit. Even when they’ve had the benefit of quality guys such as Keith Yandle to distribute the puck, they have lacked a guy that is willing to grip it and rip it the way Zibanejad does.

Last season the Rangers were clearly too pass orientated, looked for the perfect play far too often. Mats Zuccarello, Brassard, Derek Stepan, even Rick Nash and Yandle. The Rangers didn’t have a bomb from the point. They didn’t have someone willing to get the puck to the net at the first reasonable opportunity. Now they do. It’s early days but Zibanejad is off to a hot start and his presence on the PP (and of course, his general all round ability) should mean the Rangers powerplay stays dangerous all season – if they can keep feeding him the puck.

"Mika Zibanejad: Just what the doctor ordered", 5 out of 5 based on 9 ratings.
Categories : Players


  1. Chris A says:

    The real fun will start when teams start to overplay Mika on the PK and the entire right side of the PP becomes open for business. I expect to see a lot of Pirri/Kreider/Zucc/Nash combos on the score sheet at that time.

    • Egelstein says:

      Fully agree, his PP presence is gonna work to our favor in multiple ways. Might even net McD some extra points in effect, as well.

  2. Kris says:

    What makes his shot so dangerous is, its a right handed shot and being taken as a one timer. RIght handed one timers are much harder then left handed one timers to stop, due to the fact that most goalies have a stick in that hand. Previous years the pp would have Stepan would never take a one timer or Brassard who couldnt cause hes not on the correct side.

  3. Leatherneck says:

    That’s the crucial aspect of Zinajabed, he is a Righty that this team lacks upfront and never drafts

    • Chris A says:

      In the team’s defense, there are many many more left handed shots than right handed shots in the NHL.

      Right handed shots should be lefthanded in their day to day life. Your dominant hand is supposed to be at the top of your stick doing all the work, the bottom hand is merely there for support.

      • Kris says:

        This is very true, but its also funny that alot of americans dont realize this. They say im a righty with everything else, so give me a righty stick.

        Ps im a right handed american that plays with a right handed stick because I didnt know this when I started.

        • Chris A says:

          Yup, same here!

          But I’ve messed around with a left handed stick, and I have to say, the stickhandling with the puck feels very natural. Passing and shooting the puck is an issue, but I imagine with practice it wouldn’t be a problem.

          And I was wrong about there being many more LH shots over RH shots, about 65% of NHL players are LH shots.

        • Chris F says:

          Ha! Same here, I’m right handed and when I first started playing around years ago I used a right handed stick. By the time I figured out your top hand is the control hand, it was too late. I can’t for the life of me shoot left at this point.

        • Hatrick Swayze says:

          Ditto….. I’d probably have some actual dangles if I was doing it right.

        • HARLEMBLUES says:

          Baseball. We Americans play baseball first from t ball to little league. When we pick up that first hockey stick we do so like picking up a bat. We relate swinging like shooting. So right handed kids pick up a righty shooting stick. That’s why I think more Americans are right handed shots. We play baseball and most coaches let the child pick what’s comfortable.

      • 43 says:

        I’m right-handed, but holding a hockey stick for me came naturally as a righty shot. Using my left hand in the middle of the stick seems impossible. It depends on what feels comfortable. Holding and shooting and jabbing a hockey stick is a totally different sensation than writing with a pencil or eating with a fork.

  4. Stranger Nation says:

    Like Zika’s game a lot. Very savvy with the puck and has amazing vision. Younger, cheaper (for now). While many are quick to throw Brass under the bus. Brass rarely played with Kreider, that was reserved for Step and both were inconsistent.
    The KZB/NZK line has not been very good in the Dzone, something that Brass got knocked for (deservedly so, but Zucc doesn’t help on your wing) Brass was also very durable and was used in late game draws in Dzone last year due to D Moore’s regression and Step/Haze inability to win a Dzone draw.
    Finally, Brass performed best when it mattered most; on the big stage in April/May. Many don’t have that legacy. I hope Zika can replicate it.
    Excited for future but only 3 games, we need a Mr May, not Mr October; right Mr Nash??

    • Chris A says:

      The relative ages between Brassard and Mika are really important. Brassard is 30, if he doesn’t begin his decline this year, it’s happening next year. He is way past his prime. Also, Mika is much bigger and plays a far more physical game than Brassard.

      That trade was a heist. We should be thankful Ottawa is a budget team and felt they didn’t want to pay Mika the $6M or $7M per year contract he’s going to get next summer.

      It’s not about throwing Brass under the bus, it’s just that Mika is such a massive upgrade over Brassard. And getting a 2nd round draft pick from a likely lottery team is just icing on top of a very tasty cake!

      • Stranger Nation says:

        I am a big fan of the deal. As Gorton said, it’s give to get in this league and Dolan’s dollars won out over Senators penny pinching.
        My primary point is Brass delivered on the big stage in NYC in springtime. Not many have that legacy. He was also very durable which can be overlooked.
        He is supposed to be the much better Defensive center but +1 with many goals against 5v5 in first 3 games. More of a Kreider/Butch issue IMHO. Will have his hands full playing 200 ft with those two.

  5. CR7 says:

    So there was a blog fight and I had nothing to do with it? There’s a novelty. Dave, how can you say Dylan is certainly an upgrade over G? Has there even been a large enough SS to make that determination? It’s like the fools on twitter declaring that Chris has grown up because he put together 3 straight good performances.

  6. Sully 55 says:

    He’s much better than brass defensively..better on F/O..slots
    Step better also ..gorton first move has been great

  7. Peter says:

    Brassard and Mika are much different players and each have their different strengths. Brassard was wonderful with Rangers and a clutch guy so he will be appreciated and will be missed.

    But Mika’s big shot and size and speed and youth are exactly what the Rangers needed. So far it looks like an excellent deal for both teams, particularly for the Blueshirts.

    • Chris A says:

      This isn’t intended to be a slight to Brassard, but I’m having a really hard time identifying what exactly Brassard brings to the table that Mika doesn’t.

      Mika is bigger, faster, younger, just as good a playmaker, has a better shot, is better at the dot, and is a better defensive player.

  8. Walt says:

    Let me say that I’m a big Brass fan. That said, this may well be a Gomes for MacTruck, 2.0!!!!

    • 43 says:

      Gomez for MacTruck lite, at best. Gomez was pitiful, overrated, and overpaid has-been; while Mac is one of the best players in the world. Brass is an excellent hockey player, Mika is as talented but with more upside.

  9. Jerry says:

    I am a big Brassard fan and loved what he brought to the team. But I think Gorton accomplish a what he set at to do, get faster, and cheaper, bigger was a bonus. However, the real test will be when Mika’s next contract comes up………
    I loved this trade. Kinda makes up for the dumb a__ed Staal trade towards the end of last season.

  10. Andy says:

    Great write-up. He’s really been a bright spot. Also seems like he has had a positive influence on Kreider and his face off percentage is probably trending above a unsustainable level (around 63%) but he’s been very good in that aspect of the game. I miss Brassard, but i think long term Mika brings a more complete overall game to the Rangers. And is it me or does Pirri look like Brassard? Kinda makes you think Brass is still around…

  11. Mikeyyy says:

    This trade was like dealing petr nedved for alexi kovalev.