Mika Zibanejad has been fantastic in the early season for the New York Rangers, netting five goals and 15 points in 19 games after coming to the club in an off-season trade from the Ottawa Senators. Unfortunately, though, an ugly injury will put a pause on Zibanejad’s season for nearly two months.
Zibanejad, 23, suffered a broken fibula on Sunday night against the Florida Panthers after slamming hard into the boards behind the Rangers’ net during overtime.
As he back checked and stayed stride for stride with Panthers winger Reilly Smith, Zibanejad’s left foot got caught on the top of Smith’s skate, which caused the Rangers winger to lose his balance and go feet first into the boards. Zibanejad’s left foot took the brunt of the impact, with his ankle twisting awkwardly and his left leg bending back under his body. He stayed down for a few minutes before getting helped off the ice.
Seeing the injury in slow motion is hard to stomach:
Generally speaking, it has been the case that even in the event of a serious injury — lower- or upper-body in nature — it takes a while for the extent and nature of the injury to be announced, but the Rangers had reported that Zibanejad had broken his fibula and was out 6-8 weeks shortly after Sunday’s game, a contest the Rangers lost in a shootout, had ended.
The timeline for return means mid-January or early-February may be the next time Zibanejad’s in the Rangers’ lineup.
There’s never a good time for an injury such as Zibanejad’s, but the timing couldn’t be much worse for him. Following Sunday’s game, in which he notched a goal, Zibanejad’s 15 points are the third-most of all Rangers and had him on pace to set yet another career high in goals and points.
Zibanejad’s goal and point totals have risen in every season of his NHL career. In 2012-13, his rookie year, he managed seven goals and 20 points in 42 games, followed that with a 16-goal, 33-point sophomore campaign, set new career bests with 20 goals and 46 points in 2014-15 and took another step up with 21 goals and 51 points in 81 games this past season. Through 19 games, he was on pace for a 22-goal, 65-point season.
Another career-best season would have really helped Zibanejad this coming off-season, too. His contract is up this season, and he’ll become a restricted free agent at season’s end following the final season of the two-year, $5.25-million bridge deal that he signed with the Senators in June 2015.
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Get 10 issues of The Hockey News magazine for just $15.99!