Mika Zibanejad is off to a hot start. How hot, you ask? He’s joined a New York Rangers legend in the record books.
When the Rangers acquired Mika Zibanejad, they always envisioned him playing on this type of level and now he’s done something that only one other Ranger has done.
Zibanejad is showing that he is the type of player that can do it all and the numbers back that up. He is one of two Rangers to score 10 or more goals, record 20 points and have two or fewer penalty minutes in their first 21 games of a season.
The last two Rangers who have recorded 10 or more goals, 20 or more points, and two or fewer penalty minutes in the first 21 games of a season:
Mika Zibanejad (2017-18)
Jean Ratelle (1971-72)
— NYR Stats & Info (@NYRStatsInfo) November 20, 2017
Zibanejad joining Jean Ratelle comes during the season that the Blueshirts’ will be retiring Ratelle’s number. Over his 16-year Rangers career, Ratelle recorded 817 points (336 goals and 481 assists). Ratelle was a part of the Rangers team that made the Stanley Cup Finals in 1972.
This season Zibanejad has 10 goals and 10 assists, and only two penalty minutes in his first 21 games. He’s doing this all while doing it as the team’s number one center. Zibanejad has elevated his play to a level that no-one but him saw coming.
During the offseason, Zibanejad was challenged by head coach Alain Vigneault to take his game to another level.
AV said Zibanejad is at a "crossroads" in his career and he needs to "figure it out" because he absolutely can be a high-end C in the NHL.
— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) May 11, 2017
Clearly, Zibanejad has accepted that challenge and is coming to play on a daily basis. So far Zibanejad’s living up to the expectations that came with the five-year contract extension the Rangers gave him over the summer.
The Rangers are only hoping that Zibanejad can turn into the type of player that Rattelle was. It looks like he has found chemistry with Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich as a top line for the Rangers. Together, they have combined to score 46 points (23 goals and 23 assists), becoming the focus of the oppositions top defenders.
Not only has Zibanejad been a revelation at even strength but he is one of the reasons for the Rangers having the fifth best power-play in the entire league.
If Zibanejad can keep this pace up, he will turn into one of the top centers in the league. So far, it looks like he’s up to that challenge.