Mika Zibanejad
Mika Zibanejad
26-Year-Old CenterC
New York Rangers
2018 Fantasy Outlook
Despite missing 10 games last season due to a concussion, Zibanejad led the Rangers in goals (27) while finishing second in points (47). While his minus-23 rating was a major blemish, the former Senators center made up for that by tying for sixth in the entire NHL with 14 power-play goals. With over 45 points in three of the past four seasons and room for further growth at age 25, Zibanejad offers plenty of fantasy value despite his defensive shortcomings. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a five-year, $26.75 million contract with the Rangers in July of 2017.
Puts it all together in 2018-19
CNew York Rangers
April 8, 2019
Zibanejad finished the season with 30 goals and 44 assists in 82 games.
After battling concussion issues in past seasons, Zibanejad finally put together a healthy campaign, finishing with career highs in goals, assists and points. He was easily the Rangers' most dangerous offensive player, despite scoring only 11 goals on the power play after potting 14 a season ago. Injuries are the only real concern for the soon-to-be 26-year-old center, as he proved he can deliver with a subpar supporting cast and should only get better as the retooling Rangers add more talent around him.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Zibanejad spent the first 19 games of 2016-17 making the Rangers look like geniuses for acquiring him and a pick from Ottawa for Derick Brassard, but a broken leg sidelined him for nearly two months, and while he scored two goals in his first game back, his final 36 games of the season saw him pick up a modest seven goals and 20 points. More will be expected from the 24-year-old Swede this time around, as he’s effectively the Rangers’ No. 1 center with Derek Stepan having been shipped out to Arizona in June. Stepan regularly played 18-plus minutes per game, which is likely what the Blueshirts will ask of Zibanejad in 2017-18; his most productive season with the Sens came when he skated career-high minutes, and there’s no reason to think he can't handle the extra workload on Broadway. The lack of a star winger to feed may keep him out of fantasy’s upper echelons, but as long as Zibanejad can avoid being derailed by injury again, 20-plus goals and 50-plus points is his floor.
Zibanejad is expected to break out in the near future, and despite hopes that this is the season, the Sens decided to ship the center to New York for proven Derick Brassard. Opportunity came knocking for the 23-year-old this past season with Kyle Turris’s season ending early, which led to a campaign filled with career highs. The 2011 No. 6 pick notched 21 tallies, 30 assists, 184 shots on goal and seven game-winning markers. Now with a playoff squad, Zibanejad will be expected to elevate his game and fill the void that Brassard leaves. The Swede will man the second line next to Jesper Fast and Chris Kreider, surfacing as a more unappealing trio when comparing the wingers to Bobby Ryan and Mike Hoffman. It may be wise to approach with caution, at least at first, as there will be a learning curve with the new team.
Zibanejad had a successful first full NHL campaign last season, hitting 20 goals for the first time to go with 46 points, and the question now is whether he's got another gear. At just 22 years old, he's established himself as an NHL regular and the Senators' second-line pivot, but the former No. 6 overall pick is more of a two-way center than an offensive mastermind. From a fantasy perspective but certainly not from a real-life one, he bears something of a resemblance to the Jackets' Brandon Dubinsky, without the PIM -- Zibanejad's got the size, grit and intensity to rack up 200 hits per season eventually, and the slick puck skills to net between 50 and 60 points. Of course, there's no guarantee that he'll leap to that level this year -- it's more likely that he'll approximately replicate last year's production, but perhaps with continued improvement in plus/minus as well as hits and shots.
Zibanejad is still just 23 years old, and is coming off a decent season in 2013-14, during which he collected 16 goals and 17 assists in 69 games. The team continues to have high hopes for the young Swede, and many fans have been begging for him to get a permanent spot in the team's top six. That probably won't happen this year, but keep an eye on Zibanejad's production when he does get a chance to play with more skilled linemates. With veteran David Legwand coming off a disappointing season and only sitting on a two-year contract, it's possible that the team is grooming Zibanejad to be their second-line center in a couple years.
Zibanejad registered seven goals and 13 assists in 42 games with the Senators in 2013, and is yet another part of the future in Ottawa. The 20-year-old has a promising career ahead of him, and could stake out a spot in the top six as the fourth winger behind Milan Michalek, Bobby Ryan, and Clarke MacArthur. If he stays at center, it will be with the third or fourth line, depending on what the team has planned for Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Keep an eye on how the Sens are using him in training camp to see whether or not he'll get the increased opportunities of a top-six forward.
The 19-year-old Swedish forward, the sixth overall pick in 2011, played in Ottawa's first nine regular season games last season before being sent back to Sweden to play for Djurgardens of the Swedish Elite League. He scored the golden goal for team Sweden in the finals of the World Junior Men’s Hockey Championship against Russia, but once he returned to Sweden, he suffered a concussion and never did find his game for the rest of the season. Now, fully recovered, Zibanejad will look to earn a forward spot on the Senators out of training camp. Big, fast, and skilled, Z-Bad, as he's known, could potentially line up on one of the top two lines, but that’s likely not a realistic scenario. Interestingly enough, while he was drafted as a center, he'll likely play on the wing in Ottawa if he does earn a spot. He’s shown much more offensive flair on the wing than at center, as there is not as much defensive responsibility, something for which he’s not known. Should he not make the team, Zibanejad will start the year in the AHL playing for Binghamton. A realistic offensive expectation is for 5-10 goals and 10-15 assists in his first full NHL season. He has a boatloads of potential, but he’s still a raw prospect. Those in keeper leagues will want to target Zibanejad in the later rounds.
One of the more NHL-ready players to emerge from the 2011 Entry Draft, Zibanejad will arrive at Ottawa's training camp in September looking to win a spot with the club. Gifted with great puck skills, a big body, and speed to spare, the 6'2", 192 pound center plays a very physical, North American style game. Should he not win a spot with Ottawa out of training camp, Zibanejad will return to Sweden to play for Djurgarden where he'll be expected to play an offensive role, take key faceoffs, and see time on both the penalty kill and powerplay. While we don't expect him to make the 2011-12 version of the Ottawa Senators, Zibanejad should crack the team for good in 2012-13.
More Fantasy News
Fuels offense in shootout loss
CNew York Rangers
April 6, 2019
Zibanejad notched two assists in Friday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Blue Jackets.
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Scores pair of goals in loss
CNew York Rangers
March 27, 2019
Zibanejad scored two goals and recorded a team-high five shots on net in Wednesday's 6-3 loss to Boston.
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Shakes off brief slump
CNew York Rangers
March 9, 2019
Zibanejad picked up two assists in Saturday's 4-2 win over the Devils.
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Continues to tear it up
CNew York Rangers
February 28, 2019
Zibanejad notched a 5-on-5 goal in Wednesday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Rangers.
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Still productive without Zucc
CNew York Rangers
February 24, 2019
Zibanejad notched two assists in Sunday's 6-5 overtime loss to the Capitals.
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