5:10PM: On Jeff Marek’s show on Friday, Elliotte Friedman was asked about Zibanejad and said “The first text that I got after we reported today was about Zibanejad, like ‘what do you think it’s going to mean for him?’ I think that is the obvious comparable. That is the one that stands out.”
In speaking about the Florida’s tax situation, Friedman said “I think every place in the NHL has it’s advantages and disadvantages, but I always wonder how that comes into play. The Rangers are probably going to look at that and say okay, here is 10 for Barkov, that is kind of where we want to go, max and Zibanejad, who is represented in his family, does he just say that it is Florida and a tax situation, it doesn’t apply to me. I could see how the Rangers would look at that deal and say, ‘you are coming in a little under that’ and I always think that an agent would look and say, nuh-uh, that is their situation, this is our situation. It always leads to a tug of war.”
On the Rangers, Friedman continued “if a player shows you, by the way that they play, that they are a cornerstone person on your team, you do what you need to do to make it work. If the Rangers decide they have to have Zibanejad they are going to find a way to make it work, that is how I look at it. If you can’t make a deal, you can’t make a deal, but you always try.”
In mentioning a question he was asked about where he thinks Jack Eichel will be playing by the trade deadline, Friedman said “if Zibanejad isn’t signed by then, then I’m going to wonder if it’s going to be the Rangers. That is the thing. The Rangers are doing a really good job of creating the impression that they aren’t in on Eichel and maybe on a day to day business that is true, but I have to think, just because the way a good GM thinks is ‘okay, maybe we are going to stay out of this publicly, but what if we can’t work out this situation with Zibanejad, then we have to be prepared for Plan B, you always have to have escape routes and plans. That is the why I look at it with Eichel, the Rangers and Zibanejad situation, if they can’t get him signed then I gotta think they are considering the possibility of it.”
11:49PM: The Florida Panthers have signed pending UFA center Alexander Barkov to an eight-year deal that has a cap hit of $10 million per season.
Barkov, 26 and the Panthers captain, won the Selke Trophy last season and has 405 points in his last 404 games.
He is in the last year of a six-year deal that has a cap hit of $5.9 million.
Mika Zibanejad has 334 points in his last 404 games.
The Rangers are believed to be talking with Zibanejad about an extension.
Adam Rotter: There was once a thought that Barkov was going to be the Rangers target if he ever got to free agency, but over the last year the Panthers made it known that he would never get to that point. The more recent thought, from people around the NHL, was that Zibanejad was waiting for Barkov to sign and establish a benchmark of sorts for keeping a number one center from going to free agency.
Barkov ties with his teammate Sergei Bobrovsky for the highest cap hit to any player playing in Florida and they sit $500,000 about both Brayden Point and Andrei Vasilevski in Tampa. Why does that matter? Because players have sometimes taken less money to stay in Florida because of the beneficial tax situation.
What does this mean for the Rangers and Zibanejad? 8-years and $80 million is pretty much the max that Zibanejad can get. As a UFA next summer I think the max he would get from someone else is 7-years and $10 million per season, so I do think there is a ceiling of sorts, but Zibanejad does hold some leverage right now. He would be the best UFA next summer, the Rangers usually sign the best UFA and the Rangers have no one else who can step into his spot. He wants to be a Ranger and help get this team back to contending, but he also deserves to get the highest contract he can. There is certainly a deal to be made, but this is Chris Drury’s first time in charge for something like this. Will he take a hard line on years, cap hit or no-move/trade protection? We don’t know. We do know that the Rangers have a massive deal for Adam Fox to get done and potentially, depending on how they play, big contracts for Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere. My guess is that something gets done at some point that is around 7-years, $9.5 million and full no-move protection for 5 or 6 of those years and a modified no-trade for the last year. Whether that deal gets done now, next month, in the days leading up to the trade deadline or hours before he can become a UFA, I don’t know, but I do think Zibanejad will ultimately remain a Ranger.