Determine the value of New York Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad has been a tricky process. The talented 24 year-old Swede potted 14 goals and 37 points in 56 games during his first season with the Blueshirts, but showed flashes of true elite level talent that prove he has the ability to dominate the game like few others on the team’s roster. Of course, there’s still the matter of playing with that level of skill and determination consistently. When he can accomplish that, the sky’s the limit.
Until then however, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton is left to determine Zibanejad’s value now, as he’s owed a new contract this offseason. In fact, he’s due one before July 25th if the team and the player hope to avoid contract arbitration in front of a judge. With a hearing date set, both sides have to be feeling pressure to make a deal sooner rather than later. But, for how much and for how long?
With multiple 20+ goal seasons in his back pocket you can bet that Zibanejad would prefer to receive both term and dollars in his next deal. The Rangers, however, would be smart to offer one or the other as an incentive for Zibanejad to find consistency and earn term and dollars on his next deal. Of course, there’s always a middle ground and the increasingly popular “bridge deal” that many young players are signing these days may be amenable to both sides. Is Montreal Canadiens’ Alex Galchenyuk’s new three-year, $14.7 million deal with an annual salary of $4.9 million a fair comparable? Time will tell what the two sides can agree upon… and if an agreement isn’t in the cards, a court judgement may take care of the work for them.