New York Rangers Free Agency: Mika Zibanejad Files for Salary Arbitration

Restricted free agent Mika Zibanejad has officially filed for salary arbitration according to the NHLPA. Jesper Fast had also filed paperwork but signed a three-year, $5.55 million deal to remain with the New York Rangers on Wednesday afternoon.

Before you freak out and think Zibanejad’s Ranger future is in jeopardy, take a deep breath. This is a completely normal situation, as the Rangers can, and likely will continue to work toward signing him to a new contract and bypassing arbitration all together. Many players over the past few years have filed for salary arbitration with the Rangers, but the last Ranger to actually make it to a hearing was Nikolai Zherdev.

On August 4, 2009, Zherdev was awarded $3.9 million a year in arbitration, but the Rangers opted to cut ties with him. The Rangers had offered Zherdev $3.25 million a year after scoring 23 goals and 58 points during the 2008-09 season.

Zibanejad is coming off a successful first season on Broadway in which he scored 14 goals and added 23 assists for 37 points in 56 games, and a career-best 0.66 points per game average. He also led the Rangers in playoff scoring with two goals, seven assists and nine points in 12 games played.

Larry Brooks speculated that Zibanejad will be re-signed at an average annual value of between $4.5 and $5.5 million depending on the length of contract the Rangers offer him.

I argued Zibanejad’s market value may be a little more, and you can check that story out here in case you missed it.

The bottom line is that this is a normal run of the mill process, and the nature of salary arbitration is nothing to worry about. Zibanejad’s potential hearing date has not been set yet, but can take place between July 20 and August 4.