While we don’t have an official announcement of who will be the next Rangers’ captain, those with any semblance of logic have deduced it will likely come down to one of Chris Kreider or Mika Zibanejad. David Quinn has had great things to say about Zibanejad, which seems to give him the edge.
Zibanejad is the clear-cut 1C on the team, is very energetic on the ice, and seems to have a clear bond with a lot of the guys in the locker room. He’s signed for the next three seasons and will likely get another deal after that (although that contract will likely be the subject of debate, but let’s discuss that in three years when Zibanejad is a UFA at the age of 28).
Kreider is the longest tenured Rangers forward, the only remaining link to Tortorella’s black-and-blue Rangers up front. The 28 year old is a leader in the locker room and has already been giving tutelage and mentorship to the young Russian players. However he is only signed through this season, and his future in New York is very much in doubt.
Both are clear leaders in the locker room, and it’s tough to say which would be the better choice if they are both a part of the long term future. That is a big IF, of course, as there is a realistic chance that Kreider is traded even before the season starts. There is also a non-zero chance that the Rangers don’t re-sign Zibanejad after the 2021-2022 season. Given their history with captains lately (Jagr, Drury, Callahan, McDonagh), it would be nice to have a captain here for an extended period of time.
Perhaps the next captain is someone we aren’t even thinking of yet. Perhaps David Quinn goes with alternates until someone else is ready to take a leadership role. After all, it would be nice to have a captain who will be here for more than a few seasons before he is traded, bought out, or unceremoniously dumped to the KHL.