The start of the NHL’s regular season is finally here! The puck drops on a season new Tuesday night with two games as the Tampa Bay Lightning hoist another Stanley Cup Banner and the Seattle Kraken play their first game in franchise history. However, before we get to that there were some headlines over the weekend. First Mika Zibanejad signed a new contract with the New York Rangers. Second, Aleksander Barkov signs a new deal with the Florida Panthers. In addition to those stories, we look at other headlines in this edition of the NHL Notebook.
NHL Notebook: Mika Zibanejad and Aleksander Barkov Re-Signed
The big news of the long weekend has been the signings of Mika Zibanejad and Aleksander Barkov with their respective clubs. Let’s begin in the Big Apple with Zibanejad. It was announced on Sunday morning that the Rangers were extending the first line by eight years. The contract is worth $68 million and carries a salary-cap hit of $8.5 million. Zibanejad has been rumoured for months now to be a piece in a trade for Jack Eichel. But with this deal, the Rangers put to bed these rumours once and for all. In addition, Zibanejad stated “I wanted to stay. I want all the guys on this team to stay, as well… That was something that was talked about… That’s why I said I feel like it’s a great deal both ways.”
The Rangers also named him as one of the six assistant captains this year with the club. There was talk the team would name a captain prior to the start of the season, but they chose against it. That will not likely change either. For Zibanejad and the Rangers, this is a deal that was a long time coming and now he can move forward being the best player he can be for the Rangers.
Another big signing from this past weekend was Aleksander Barkov with the Panthers. The Panthers locked up their captain for eight more years. The deal is worth $80 million and carries a salary-cap hit of $10 million per season. Barkov is one of the most underrated players in the NHL. However, he continues to improve each and every year in the league. He is one of the best two-way players in the game and that was proven when he took home the Selke Award during the 2020-21 NHL season. The Panthers have a bright future ahead of them with the core in place and Joel Quenneville behind the bench. The question will be are they ready to take the next step.
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Other News and Notes:
- Jon Cooper has a lot to be thankful for this past Canadian Thanksgiving. The Tampa Bay Lightning locked up their head coach for another three years. Cooper has been with the organization since 2010 leading the Norfolk Admirals to the AHL Calder Cup. In 2013, he was named head coach of the Lightning. He has been in that position ever since. There was some talk prior to the team winning back-to-back Stanley Cups, he was on the hot seat, but that is put to bed with this new extension. The Lightning have a lot of work to do to three-peat, but Cooper knows most of this core and believes they can do it.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs announced that Auston Matthews will miss the first three games of the season as he deals with his wrist injury. Toronto should be fine without him and expect him to be his normal self when he returns to the lineup
- The Seattle Kraken will be without five players when they open the season Tuesday night in Vegas. Those players will be on the COVID-19 protocol list and they include: Marcus Johansson, Calle Jarnkrok, Joonas Donskoi, Jared McCann, and Jamie Oleksiak.
- Also, the New York Islanders make the signings of Zach Parise and Zdeno Chara official. Both players will receive the league minimum plus bonuses in their contracts.
- Also, Full Press Hockey wants to send their well wishes to Carey Price as he enters the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program.