Mika Zibanejad

Still No Captain

There’s been much speculation over whether the Rangers will announce a captain this year after having been without one since the departure of Ryan McDonagh three years ago.  The answer: Not yet.

Instead of naming a captain, David Quinn again went the alternate route, naming four players who will serve as Alternate Captains this season.

No surprise, but Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad are the two most often spoken candidates, and they will both wear A’s this year.  Interestingly, they’ll also start the season on the same line, so they should be well covered there.  Zibanejad has emerged as an offensive leader on the team, while Kreider is easily the most tenured with the departure of Henrik Lundqvist and Marc Staal, as well as the previous 4th most tenured in Jesper Fast.

Jacob Trouba also earns an A.  Trouba just completed his first year as a Ranger, and still has a lot to prove, but is signed for another five years after this one, so he’s expected to be around for some time.  Alexei Panarin also earns an A, like Kreider and Trouba, he’s expected to be around for the long term, though is limited English makes him a little bit of a curious choice, though certainly not undeserved.

The decision might be a result of a couple of different dynamics.  One, the team is still rebuilding despite some enormous advances in the last year or two, and with this season being a tough one, and a shortened one, along with a flat cap for the next few years, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that there are still changes to come.

Finally, with Zibanejad becoming a UFA at the end of next season, there’s some question as to whether the team will be able to afford to retain him.  His 5.3M annual cap hit at the moment is sure to inflate if he continues his trajectory, and with Panarin, Kreider and Trouba already signed until at least the end of 2025-26, and a host of others who will need contracts in the interim, there’s not necessarily enough room.

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