Rangers acquire Mika Zibanejad from Ottawa for Derick Brassard

Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images

The Rangers have acquired forward Mika Zibanejad and a 2018 2nd round pick from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Derick Brassard and a 2018 7th round pick. Zibanejad, 23,  put up a line of 21-30-51 last year for the Sens, following up his impressive 20-26-46 rookie campaign. He has one year left at $2.65 million on his current deal.

Brassard, 28, is coming off a career high in goals with 27 last season, and has put up 60 points the last two seasons with the Rangers. Brassard has three years left at $5 million per season.


I had theorized that Brass was the Rangers’ best trade chip, as his production skyrocketed last year and the Rangers may have already had in-house replacements. While Zibanejad puts up better point rates, Brass has better overall possession numbers.

Zibanejad isn’t going to be someone that should be counted on for offense, but shouldn’t be relied upon for defense. He should only get better too, as he is entering his prime. Meanwhile Brass should see his goal numbers come down next year after a crazy SH% year.

All in all, the Rangers get younger and comparable production at a lesser cap hit. Plus they get an additional second round pick. Plus, Zibanejad is a righty. There’s not much to dislike about this trade.

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  • im not thrilled about Zibanejad only having this year left on his contract. Why do I think there is more to come?

    • He’s a 23 year old RFA. What’s the concern? If he has a 55 point season Mika can sign a Stepan deal next summer.

  • Holy crap, that’s an outstanding trade!

    Brass was great, but Mika is the kind of big bodied (6’2″ 222 lbs), productive, young center we have been clamoring for. And he’s right handed, and Gorton somehow got a 2nd round pick from a lottery team as well.

    Only 23 and he is already a 50 point guy. This is a fantastic deal!

    • Agreed. He also scored the game winning goal when Sweden won the gold at the World Juniors in 2012. Brassard is a good playoff performer while the book is still to be written with Zibanejad.

        • Couldn’t we say the same about Nash?

          I’ve watched the world junior tournament for the past 5 years. I remembered him because he had a strong tournament three or four years ago. I’m very happy with this trade. I think he’ll be a better player five years from now than Brassard is today.

          • Well, it is a small sample size, but Mika does have 8 points in 16 playoff games. For a kid that was 19 and 21 in those two playoff years, that’s solid.

  • I made a trade Zibanejad on EA. I had done one for Nash back in the day. Naslund, too. All before they were Rangers. Weird.

  • Clearing future Cap space so a possible next deal or contract absorption (Girardi?) may be next on the horizon. Looks like a pretty good deal. I am more impressed with the second round pick in 2018.

    • One more thing. I think this opens the possibility of giving Kreider a 4 year deal now, as more money is available in year 3 and 4.

      • There was already more than enough cap space for the Rangers to give Krieder whatever deal they wanted.

        The Rangers now have a ridiculous amount of cap space for the next two years. They have over $9.5M in cap space with only Kreider and Hayes unsigned. Next summer they have to sign Mika, and whichever three of Jooris/Fast/Lindberg/McIlrath survive the expansion draft. Glass and Gerbe will be coming off the cap ($2.05M) should be enough to sign the three lesser RFAs. Whatever is left over this summer after signing Kreider and Hayes, plus the cap increase, goes to resign Mika.

        If, and it’s a big if, Gorton can vanish one of the chuckle brothers without using a buyout, I think the Rangers become one of the top teams of this summer.

          • It’s less of a fight and more a question of who does George McPhee and LV prefer.


            Those are the seven forwards the Rangers are protecting. Buch, Skjei, and Graves are exempt. So that leaves, the players I mentioned last post plus the rest of the D corps, after McD, Staal, and Girardi.

  • Great trade for NYR, JG and hopefully AV. Impact on the Hobbit and CK?
    Definitely feel like this is the first dominoe.
    To Derrick Brassard, thank you for your play here, you were a pleasure to watch and good luck with Ottawa.

  • I am certain this is the precursor to the trade with Tampa for Namestnikov that Gorts is going to announce later today. ?

  • Big Kid, 1 year left on his deal, this kid is gonna wanna perform for the shells mon…

    Nice deal… a draft pick… yea yea yea…

    I am still feeling optimistic about 2 other big moves this summer…

    JG = RockStar Today!


        • What makes you think Leopold will not sign him for an other 2 years? He likes to show us who is boss!
          No reason for happiness, Leopold is still in charge and doesn’t know how to use the new guy.
          We would know if Leopold has changed when Glass is gone and we see a new system.

          • The Coach can tell the GM who he wants. Don’t be naive! How do you thing we got Glass!

          • Because Slats wanted a tough player and AV recommended him. That doesn’t mean AV demanded signing Glass at all costs.

            I know you hate AV. Just understand that you are unreasonable and that he really is one of the better head coaches in the league.

            Maybe you like you your head coach to be a lunatic like Torts, or a schemer that actively works to undermine his own team like Keenan did, I don’t know, I can’t read your mind. Like I said earlier, if the Rangers and AV parted ways today, he would have at least a half dozen NHL head coaching interviews lined up by Friday. Teams would be willing to get rid of their current coaches to upgrade to AV.

          • And you know, I apologize for the useless troll comment. I just get sick of the AV bashing. And the Leopold thing is just odd.

          • Slats is not the one playing TG unreasonably! AV wanted him and no one else! AV is the one trying to show us who is the boss! Leopold does not care about anyone’s opinion he is playing Glass, like it or not! Stats or not! The GM’s in the last 2 years tried to proved enough people to appease Leopold but he was not happy! I wish any team that would want Leopold to let them have him because he has done enough damage here.

          • I know you care because you called me troll!
            Maybe I should change my name to Troll_Underscore!

          • I would say that your hate for AV is well noted already. However, let me ask you a question since you think we’re being naive and we should believe your AV conspiracy theories…. If AV has so much say and control over who goes or who stays, WHY the hek would AV want to trade away the only French Canadian in which he used a lot in almost every situation? Not to mention they were neighbors growing up?

            Sounds like you contradicted yourself there buddy.

          • Hey Chris, your post below sounds like it came out of the Eddie handbook. Sometimes I think Eddie has Multiple Personalities 🙂

  • I don’t know why but the first thought that came to mind after I let this trade sink is was “this sets us up well now to trade Stepan.”

    Regardless, i like this trade; I just hope the kid likes New York and embraces or club going into his RFA year.

    • I think a kid, from Sweden, who just spent 6 years in Ottawa will like NYC.

      I just hope his like playing for AV

      he is only 23

      • that’s an interesting thought you have about Sweden, Ottawa and NYC….I see no connection among the 3 locations in terms of favoring or not favoring playing in NYC but I will go with it and assume NYC is an attractive place for the player.

        other than the risk of his RFA year, I don’t see much drawback to this trade and that isn’t a big issue, I wouldn’t think

    • I’d love to hear how Stepan factored into your thinking, AD. Unless Gorton was trading Stepan for someone like Jack Eichel, I don’t see how you improve the Rangers in the short term by dealing Stepan.

      Ottawa was being cheap, here. They took the inferior player because he has cost certainty over the next three years. There’s a strong possibility that Brassard, at 28, just had his career year and is entering his decline phase. Again, I don’t know what C you are trading Stepan straight up for that improves the Rangers.

      • The fact he is righty mitigated one primary concern of trading Stepan for a defenseman, for example. We’d be left devoid any right-handed forwards then. That may have entered my thoughts. Zabinajad is also known as being good on the PP, an area where Stepan is “ok”. That may have been another factor.

        I can think of many ways to improve the team by trading Stepan. As I’ve stated in the past, this is not an urgent need, per se, for the team, but I can certainly envision ways to upgrade the team with his trade.

        Stepan is not that special where he is out of most trade discussions.

        • That all makes sense AD.

          The way I see it, is that by moving Stepan you create a massive hole in the roster. The Rangers do not have a player in the organization that can fill that 1C/2C role. So, by moving Stepan you might fill one smaller need, but you created a massive need at the same time and you need to go outside the org to fill that need. Also, it’s a very expensive need to fill properly.

          Stepan is a top 20 center in the league, I know there is a decent sized group that follow this blog that don’t want to accept that, but, when you take into consideration his age, his production, and his effectiveness on the PK, it all adds up to a 1C.

          • I think Zibanijad is our new #1 center and trading Stepan would certainly create holes. “Z” does mitigate some of those holes and in a very modest way marginalizes Stepan a bit on the PP and offensive zone minutes as being better at face-offs.

            But I think we could package Stepan for a solid #2 center and a young defenseman, for example, that may bring better overall balance to the team I was hoping for Trouba+Coyle, as that type of trade. Coyle may be a #2/#3 center but so was Brassard, frankly, when we acquired him; he made great strides as a player with our team. It’s just a matter of trade-offs but I think trades can be done to accomplish better overall team balance.

            We do have bigger fish to fry than trading Stepan so I don’t want to come across at all as saying this is a primary need of the team; more like opportunistic upgrade if the trade presents itself.

          • Once again I agree with Chris. Stepan is a number 1 C. People get confused about what a #1 C is because they compare him to the elite centers in the league. I don’t think he’s at that level but he is a 1

  • Wondering if this deal is a springboard to possibly deal for Shattenkirk now that we have a bit more cap room? Seems we have quite a few forwards with Jooris, Buch, Grabner & Gerbe also in the mix.

    • The Rangers don’t have a roster spot available for Shattenkirk unless they move out a D or decide to dress 7 Ds every game.

      • Chris I realize that…just wondering if a defensmen and or a forward go to the Blues in exchange. Early summer rumor was Nash possibly getting dealt. Could one of our D be included in a mix that would bring Shattenkirk here? With the extra cap room it’s not that far fetched….just made me think something else is in the works.

        • Gotcha. I just can’t see a budget team (i.e. a team that tries to not spend to the cap) like St. Louis taking on two years of Nash and multiple years of Girardi or Staal.

          That really just leaves Nash+Klein for one year of Shattenkirk before he hits UFA. I don’t think that deal improves the Rangers at all. And if it’s not Nash, which young, developing, forward are you dealing for one year of Shattenkirk?

          • Agree here on almost every level but with Hitch leaving after this year and it being his swan song along with his love of Nash he may just make that deal, especially if their intent is not to sign Shatty. This could be a deadline deal rather than a preseason deal as well. With our cap space and Shatty’s so called desire to be a Ranger why wouldn’t he sign with us? I think we are stuck with G&S unless they perform above average and get dealt at the deadline (assuming they waive their NTC). I think a deal like that is made to get better for the future and give us a healthier cap moving forward. One of G&S could still get bought out next year. Just a thought.

  • wow, this seems pretty fair and the fact that we get a pick as well tips it scales in our favor – sounds promising!

  • Zibenajad just completed his 2nd year as a pro… believe he does not have to be protected in the upcoming expansion draft which means the Rangers can protect a possible player they might have lost. Avery savvy move.

    • No, Mika has been in the league full time since 2012. He very much requires expansion draft protection.

      On it’s own, it’s a terrific trade, if it meant the Rangers acquired a player that didn’t require expansion draft protection, that would have made it even more of a steal.

  • Convention coverage has me rather distracted, but had a break, just saw and heard the news about the trade and had to see what you all think. On its surface, seems like a real good deal. Got younger, got cheaper and now have more cap space to do other things now or down the road, got a draft pick upgrade, and seemingly got a player on the rise. All good I’d say!

    This might have been lost in the shuffle, but Gorton in his presser today said they never considered buying out Girardi and that they expect him to be better this coming season.

    • Eddie,

      Good God I just heard about this.

      I see some of the positive sides to this but what bothers me is that we all agreed Brass signed a good contract, and the other thing is….Mika is a UFA after this season coming up… Is it really worth it all, just to clear up 3 mill under cap?

      This definitely sounds like more is brewing.

      • Mika is potentially a better player than Brassard.

        He’s 23, bigger, right handed, and producing at nearly the same rate as the 28 year old Brassard. This trade wasn’t about clearing cap space, this was about improving the Rangers’ roster. Ottawa was willing to make this trade because they were afraid Mika was going to ask for over $6M per year next summer.

        Ottawa, a budget team (meaning a team that refuses to spend to the cap due to an internal budget), opted for an older player with three years of cost certainty over a younger player with a much higher ceiling.

      • Oh, and Mika is not a UFA after this year. He goes UFA summer 2018. I imagine if Mika has a decent season the Rangers sign him long term to a contract similar to Stepan’s next summer.

        • Chris,

          NOW you’re talking…shooo I just wiped a pound of sweat off of my forehead.

          If he was UFA at thr end of this coming up season, I really would have hated this deal.

          I just don’t feel like it’s an upgrade otherwise. Brass has vision, passing, a underrated shot, worked well with Zuuc etc etc.

          I remember Mika when in Juniors and the day he was drafted but I don’t know man, I dont know.

          I’m gonna need a day to have this sink in.

          One of the only positives out of this for me is, that as much as I loved Brass, his Playoff work was much to be desired. Sure Mika is big, fast and electrifying, but Brass was all HEART.

          Ahhhh mann.

          • Mika is a Swede, Zucc is an honorary Swede. The two of them will be a great combo.

            As great as Brass was, he is injury prone. It’s amazing he lasted as long as he did for the Rangers. He had serious, career threatening, shoulder problems throughout his time in Columbus. It’s one of the reasons the Jackets were willing to give up on him.

            Finally, Brass is 29 next season. Brass is past his prime. The chances of him improving are small. Mika is a #6 overall pick. He is a serious talent. I am telling you guys, this is a massive step in the right direction for the near term future of the Rangers.

          • Brass was a #6 overall pick too… in a pretty top heavy draft non the less… E. Johnson, J. Staal, Toews, Backstrom, Kessel, Brass, Okposo

            Not that I’m disagreeing with you by any means… just I thought it’s a funny fact that they’re both #6OA’s

          • Good points!

            One other major thing we forgot about is… Mika is a righty 🙂

  • “Zibanejad isn’t going to be someone that should be counted on for offense, but shouldn’t be relied upon for defense.”

    Is this correct? He put up twenty goals in only two NHL seasons. 50 points last year.

    • i suspect the points made were inadvertently reversed; and he should be counted on for offense but not as much, defensively

  • It stings a little to see Brassard go (along with Zucc – Brass synergy), but this could be an insane trade for the Rangers. Mika is a comparable center to Brass, albeit slightly worse in terms of point production currently, but with a very good FO%, 5 yrs younger, and higher upside. Although we save a cap space this year, Mika could potentially cost the Rangers more in the future. Like others have said, he is a RFA at the end of this season and Brass is on a cap friendly deal for a couple of years, so there’s a little bit of a trade off there.

    Not to mention the 7th > 2nd…

    Minimal downside and big upside.
    Still too early to start worship GM Gorton but definitely on the right path in my opinion.

  • Mika Zibenajad for Brass sounds like a real winner for us. We get a little bigger, younger, cheaper for now, and a 2nd round pick, I’m all in for this trade. I don’t recall the poster earlier, on the other thread, that responded to my post, but this shows Jeff Gorton is for real, even with his hands tied behind his back, you have to agree to that!!!!!!!!

    Brass has been a fun guy to watch, elevated his game for the PO’s, always smiled, and had fun. To Brass I say thanks for the three years of loyal play, you will be missed, especially by Amy !!!!!!!

    I just hope that this doesn’t take it’s toll on Zucc, he lost two great friends in two seasons.

    It will be interesting to see if Mika moves into the 2C position, or if Hayes gets the nod???????????

    Good work Jeff !!!!!!!!!!!

  • Ranger Brethren , it shows what we already know, the team as it is structured from last year ( minus Stalberg & Yandle) needed to be remodeled, Hat off to Gorton, he got us younger and bigger. I like his I am not going to sit on my ass and do nothing attitude. I worry about AV and his new acquisition ( lets call him Z ) Brassard was an AV favorite, I believe Brass grew up in AV’S old hood??, LETS GO RANGERS!!

  • As the guy constantly trumpeting that the team needed to get better at centre, I’m obviously pleased with this trade on many levels. I wish Brass the best as he was a fun player to watch with his great passes & great shot. But I felt he was a real liability defensively and not a very physical player. Z is bigger, a very good skater and he kills penalties, so he’s more of an all around player. He’s still young & the upside is there. We save Cap money too and get a valuable second rounder. As for Stepan, if the right deal comes along(Duchene?) I’d trade him too. Improving the team down the middle is exactly the right solution.

    • Matt Duchene is a player I would think long and hard about trading Stepan for. I just don’t know if he is enough of an all around center to be the 1C for the Rangers. In the end I think I would rather have Stepan. Even though Stepan is not as flashy as Duchene, they produce at about the same rate (Duchene’s point totals have sagged the last two years) and Stepan is a bit more rugged. I also like Stepan’s contract situation (5 more years) a lot more than Matt Duchene’s contract situation (3 more years).

      • Step is definitely not rugged, I have no idea how you came up with THAT! Duchene has been playing on a team that is all over the place year to year. Put him in a Rangers jersey & he becomes a star. I do that trade in a heartbeat.

        • taking that Prust hit in the playoffs and then coming back with his jaw wired shut wearing a cage was pretty rugged to me

          Duchene has had knee/leg injuries which make me nervous for a hockey player

          • Leg injuries for a guy whose speed is far and away his best asset, that’s scary.

            And the Prust hit is exactly what I was talking about. Stepan missed one shift and finished that game with a shattered jaw. Dude is an animal.

    • “Z is bigger, a very good skater…”

      I was going to write this because I don’t think it has been mentioned. He isn’t a speedster like Hags or Kreider, but he is a very good skater with good speed.

      We are also making light of his defensive ability. He is a good two-way player who backchecks well. He is a “typical Swede” in that sense. He was 8th on the Senators for ice time on the penalty kill, logging 115:18 last season and averaging 1:25 per game.

  • On the surface a very good trade for the Rangers. But hope we don’t miss Brass’ .74 pts per game in the playoffs. He was our best non-goalie playoff performer the last 3 years, by far.

    • Agreed, bro.

      But again, Richter: consider the subtext: if you, in fact, endeavor to trade Nash, you also trade/remove Brassard; his friend, setup man.

      Nash goes next. Western Conference. Let’s hope a puck moving D-man and a forward with a nasty demeanor come our way.

      Gorton acquitted himself well today.

      • Gorton’s offseason success will be gauged by what he does on the back end. If it stays like this then he didn’t address the #1 issue that plagues the team. He would have just re-arranged the deck chairs to try and make it look prettier than it is.

        My gut reaction to the newly found cap space was a play for Shatty. But who goes? Nash with retained cap space?

        Or, if we really want to get creative, Kreider and McIlrath for Trouba? Jets are extremely right handed at the forward position and CK would help them there. Obviously we would get a tremendous young and talented D man and we would need the cap space to sign him. Then the Rangers could sign a Hudler or Sam Gagner on the cheap for the top 6. Gagner really intrigues me.

  • This trade blows. Brassard was a gifted center, who comes with big plays when needed. The Rangers are a worse team today.

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