Comparing Zibanejad to Brassard – Playoff edition

mika zibanejad

When teams are struggling to score it’s easy to look down a roster and pick off players with the zeros. While Chris Kreider has been nearly invisible this playoff series, I have noticed that Mika Zibanejad has been getting flack. Zibanejad will forever be linked to Big Game Brass, a fan favorite, and during the playoffs it’s easy to be nostalgic. Zibanejad has only one point thus far, while Derick Brassard has five. It’s easy to see the frustration some fans have for Zibanejad, but that’s a very small window for comparison.

Brassard came to the Rangers during his 25 year old season in the NHL. That is already one later than Zibanejad (who is also five years younger), who just turned 24 a few days ago. Before Brassard came to the Rangers he was seen as a risky center with injury history that had been unable to reach his potential with Columbus. The Rangers helped mold Brassard and utilized his skill properly by placing him with the right players. Low and behold, Brassard blossomed in front of our eyes. So why are we so down on Zibanejad?

Zibanejad, in 25 less games, only had two fewer points than Brassard this year. They also have nearly identical faceoff numbers this playoffs, with Zibanejad succeeding at a slightly higher clip during the regular season.

Brassard and Zibanejad are producing the same amount of shots this playoffs as well. The catch is that Zibanejad has done it in nearly 2 minutes less of ice time per game. Zibanejad appears to be more snake bitten than a passenger in this series. Will Zibanejad become a clutch player like Brass was in the playoffs? It’s impossible to predict, but we as fans can’t say that it is impossible.

All that said, Zibanejad does need to be better. His play right now in the playoffs has been less than ideal, and after coming back from the injury he has been inconsistent. I think that gives him a pass in the grand scheme of things. Just like Brassard had difficulty establishing himself in the NHL after his injuries, I think Zibanejad is experiencing this as well.

Prior to the leg injury, Zibanejad was on pace to shatter his points-per-game career high –he still set a new career high, though– and he was trending up from every previous season. The thing is, players need to get into the rhythm of things, and that is what makes injuries a double whammy. Not only does it effect you physically, but jumping back on the ice and into the responsibility that Zibanejad has as a top-six center, penalty killer, power play quarterback, and one of the reliable defensive zone face off takers it’s excruciatingly difficult.

After the wonderful Game 4 by the Rangers, it does look as if he is starting to come around into the type of player the Rangers need. He threw that open ice hit on that turtle neck wearing fraud (Plekanec), so at least we know he wants the puck. He took important defensive zone faceoffs and he had a couple of nice chances. If just one went in maybe the tune would be a little different.

I believe in Zibanejad’s skill. I truly think a lot of his average to even subpar play at times can be attributed to his injury. With that said, the sooner he gets back in the rhythm of things, the better chance the Rangers have to move on to the next round. Zibanejad was a possession driver in the regular season, and we need to see more of that.

But when comparing to Brassard, we need to keep age in mind. Zibanejad has a better track record at this point in his career than Brassard. Will he ever be as good of a playoff performer as Big Game Brass? Boy I hope so. But one thing is for sure, Zibanejad on his game is a difference maker for the Rangers. Maybe reuniting him with Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich is what the doctor ordered.


Show More
  • An excellent take on the conversation. Agree wholeheartedly.

    And the ” He threw that open ice hit on that turtle neck wearing fraud” was my favorite part. Who does this guy think he is- Alexi Yashin?

  • The real difference between the two is the passion. Brassard plays with passion and Zinbad does not. Take away the scoring and back-checking, and use only the eye-test and Brassard was the last remaining hear and soul guys we had. He left it all on the ice every shift. A lunchpail guy the fans admired. Zinbad is an exceptional player, but doesn’t seem to give 110% every shift. That is my take why he is negatively compared to Brass.

  • Good points Josh! No doubt, Mika’s injury was a big setback, and I suspect he will make a major surge in production next year. This deal will eventually prove to be a great one.

    To me, it’s two very different things. If the Rangers were in “win now” mode, then I think Gorton would have done all he could to keep Brassard. But he made the right choices, including letting Yandle go. The Rangers got younger and cheaper. But in doing so, potentially at least, they clearly reduced their chances at having a lengthy playoff run this year. I dont think there’s any doubt, if all 16 (now 15) GMs still alive in the playoffs could draft the team they wanted amont the remaining teams in order to win THIS year, regardless of financial implications, Brass would be the unanimous pick over Mika.

    So again I say, no Brass, no Yandle, no major moves at the deadline. The coach is extended mid-season when he didnt need to be. What does that say? This is a team being built for next year and the year after. It’s not about this year. They already exceeed many projections in terms of their regular season performance. And if they somehow beat a better (certainly more star-laden) Habs team, that’s even more gravy for a group that few had going very far.

  • the trade that sent brass to Ottawa and Mika here is simple Brass is playing with the passion that he had here and his coach Guy Boucher has coached him in juniors and brass is getting the big goals at the right time Mika is inconsistent Ottawa has a chance to advance the rangers if they win tonight and Saturday and would play Ottawa next it will be great

  • I liked Brass very much, but it is a business, and the future is brighter with Z involved with this organization!!!!!

  • Zibanejad is less expensive and younger and the stats are really equal, so this postseason Zibanejad has not achieved more the brass, ok, but post season scoring does fall for most players.. he is winning face-offs, Stepan is not.

    We need others to score, not just Zibanejad. I think he has been getting better every game this series… 1 or 2 pucks find the twine and this story is done, far done…


    Lets GO Zibanejad

    some needs to smack OTT

    • the Golden Knight draft is gonna make it an interesting summer too!

      all the variables and figures the gordon has to get going…


  • Mika is younger, cheaper, equally talented, equally productive, and better on faceoffs.

    Plus, he potted 2 OT winners this season. Yeah, I’m not worried about him not yet being on fire yet through 4 playoff games. He’s gonna be a huge part of this team’s future.

  • You make that deal back then, today, tomorrow, next year, etc.

    And I was a huge Brass fan, as he was by far our best playoff performer not named Henrik.

  • I don’t think judging that trade is all that easy, despite the fact that so many think it was either brilliant or a disaster. I thought Brassard was the better player and still is. Zibanejad is younger and seemingly more talented. Zibanejad has a great release and the potential to score a ton. But he isn’t there yet and may never be.

    Fast forward two years to 2019 and name the top twelve centers in the NHL. Stepan, Brassard, Hayes won’t be on that list. Zib probably will fall short as well, but he might just develop into one of those guys. And if you believe that you can’t win the Cup without a member of that club, and you are not picking first in the draft, well, taking a flyer on a potential member is worth a risk. Especially since a “washout” Zibanejad is still a serviceable player.

    I liked the deal then and I still like it. But I don’t think it’s a slam dunk that Gorton won the exchange. Ottawa made it back into the playoffs after all and the Rangers seem about where they were a year ago.

    Time will tell. Of course, when assessing management, good trades are ones guided by good judgment, not ones that turn out well.

    • lol, but Brass was our best playoff performer the whole time he was here, other than Henrik. So Mika has a long way to go.

      But, as I said above, you do this deal every time.

  • the comparison between brass and Mika is this the age Mika is 5 yrs younger than Brass but he was fabulous when he was here helping the rangers getting to the finals and the eastern conference finals remember the hattrick that brass scored in game 6 in tampa and now big game brass is doing it again in Ottawa I can’t wait for the matchup it will be fun

  • Back to top button