Celebrating a five-year, $5.35 million annual pact, the 24-year-old Swede virtually bubbled over the prospects of his second season as a Blueshirt.
“I’m super-happy,” Zibanejad exulted in a Tuesday conference call. “I always wanted more responsibility.”
While a serious left leg injury (fractured fibula) cost him 26 games in 2016-17, Mika tallied 14 goals and 23 assists for 37 points in 56 games.
“Now,” he explained, “I want to take my game to the next level and already am preparing for this opportunity.”
Obtained from Ottawa on July 18, 2016 along with the Senators’ second-round pick in 2018, Zibanejad cost the Rangers Derick Brassard, who moved to Canada’s capital along with New York’s seventh-round pick in the 2018 Draft.
“Yes, I was disappointed in the way we finished in the playoffs,” he said, “but I feel good about our additions, including Kevin Shattenkirk on our defense.”
Completing his first New York season, Mika sported a plus-nine rating and was lauded for his blend of speed, skill and deadly shot.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder skated in a dozen playoff games with two goals and seven assists for nine points and a plus-four rating. His injury really was Mika’s only meaningful downer in his Rangers debut season.
General Manager Garth Snow made sure that the Toronto native was protected in the Expansion Draft and with good reason. Pelech has proven to be solid in his own end with some offensive upside.
His deal calls for four years at $1.6 million annually which has Adam thrilled and delighted.
“It’s a great feeling when an organization puts that type of faith in you,” he told Newsday. “Hopefully, over the next four years I can establish myself as an NHL regular and push the Islanders to the playoffs.”
Like Pelech, the native of Switzerland, measures 6-foot-3, 210 and figures to make the New Jersey varsity, vying for a spot on the third D-pair, likely with Ben Lovejoy.
Mueller’s deal calls for two years at $800,000 per year.
Up front, General Manager Ray Shero returned hustling Joseph Blandisi to his roster. Joltin’ Joe has a two-year, two-way pact at $680,000 at the NHL level. Some observers believe that he’ll start the season in the AHL.
Once promising goalie Scott Wedgwood gets another chance to prove he has a shot at the bigs after signing a one-year, two-way contract worth $650,000 at the NHL level.
A torn labrum in his right shoulder required surgery last season and virtually cost him a good hockey year. He appeared in only 10 games but could surprise this time around in mint condition.