Mika Zibanejad deserves serious Selke Trophy consideration

new york rangers mika zibanejad
Feb 26, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) is helped off the ice after being injured in the second period against the Los Angeles Kings at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

When Mika Zibanejad took a slapshot off the ankle killing a penalty and consequently dropped to the ice in a heap of pain, the entire New York Rangers organization gasped.

The sight of seeing Zibanejad unable to put any weight on his right foot while being helped off the ice made everyone from the fans to the head coach ill.

“I was sick,” Gerard Gallant responded. “I was happier than the fans when he came out of the runway for the third period. It’s a gutsy effort and obviously Mika doing that… it was a big play. When he does that, guys on our bench say, ‘it’s a big part of our game and that why we won tonight.”

The Rangers snapped a four-game losing streak (0-3-1) by beating the Los Angeles Kings 5-2 on Sunday. More importantly, they watched their number one center finish the game with a power play goal in the final period and a smile on his face.

Mika Zibanejad deserves Selke consideration

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Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Hearts did indeed drop at the Garden and to every fan watching at home on yesterday. When Mika Zibanejad took a serious Drew Doughty slap shot off the ankle dropping him like a ton of bricks near the end of the second period, it was panic time.

Concern for the Rangers best two-way player only grew during the course of the 15 minute intermission in anticipation of the worst news. That’s why the moment he stepped on the ice for the final frame it sent the Garden into a frenzy chanting, “Mika! Mika!”

“It’s obviously cool hearing the chants,” Zibanejad admitted. “Special fans, special building, and a special organization. I appreciate it…gives you an extra boost for sure.”

Zibanejad, 29, is second on the team in scoring with 31 goals (1 shorthanded) and 64 points in 60 games to date. He’s third among Rangers forwards in blocked shots (33) and also has 51 hits. One area of weakness would be his 48.2% face-off winning percentage.

So why is it that Mika has yet to be given serious consideration for the Selke Trophy? It’s about time that he’s given the appropriate recognition for being one of the best defensive forwards in the game today.

Last season, Mika finished 15th in Selke Award voting after an incredible season with 81 points in 81 matches. He was also 52.8% on draws with 47 blocks, 67 hits, and 62 takeaways. I’m going to stress that voters felt there were 14 better forwards.

The winner was Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, even though he averaged less time on and posted lesser numbers. In 2021-22, he finished with 65 points in 73 games. The 37 year-old dominated in the face-off circles at 61.9% but had less blocks (45) and takeaways (37) than Zibanejad.

I think it’s noteworthy to point out that Bergeron has won the award five times. It’s almost like annual clockwork that members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association are going to cast enough top three ballots for him to win.

That being said, it’s time for them to start taking a real hard look at one of the NHL’s best in the game at shutting the opposition down all while scoring like an elite number one center.

Mika Zibanejad should at least finish in the top three in voting this season at the very least. As far as I’m concerned, he’s already got my vote for number one.

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Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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