Chris Drury’s first major domino has finally fallen. Mika Zibanejad has gotten the security and money he’s been looking for as he’s reportedly signed an 8 year 8.5 AAV extension to stay on Broadway.
Since coming to the Rangers, Zibanejad has turned into the player that many thought he would be when he was a first round pick of the Ottawa Senators. Zibanejad has become the long lost first line center that the team has been looking for since Messier retired.
What does this mean for the Rangers moving forward?
This all but surely takes them out of the hunt for Jack Eichel barring the Rangers moving on from Ryan Strome and somehow swindling Eichel out of Buffalo. This also means that Zibanejad will now have to justify his brand new extension because there’s certainly raised expectations on the Rangers but now there’ll be lofty expectations on Zibanejad himself. We’ve all seen the ability that he has to produce and produce at a high level and now with cornerstone pieces of Zibanejad and Panarin locked up the Rangers have two landmark pieces to build a perennial Cup contender around.
While 8 years isn’t the greatest because that’ll take Zibanejad until he’s 36, you can’t beat his AAV of 8.5M because that’s below market value for first line centers. Look at the extension that Barkov just signed with the Florida Panthers at 10M per. This was a terrific move by Chris Drury, not exactly Joe Sakic on Nathan MacKinnon but extremely solid nonetheless.
On the eve of the season beginning it’ll be nice for the Rangers to know they have their number one center locked up for the next 8 years at club friendly price. It should also do wonders for Zibanejad to not have to worry about pending contract negotiations hanging over his head to start the season. Next up on Drury’s to do list should be locking up Adam Fox before his price continues to sky rocket.