The New York Rangers announced their team award winners for the 2018-19 season today. Mika Zibanejad has been named the Rangers' Most Valuable Player and Jesper Fast has been selected as the recipient of the Players' Player Award.
The Most Valuable Player Award was voted on by members of the New York Rangers media and has been given annually since the conclusion of the 1941-42 season. Zibanejad has won the award for the first time since joining the Rangers. Zibanejad, who was also named the winner of the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award in 2018-19, became the sixth Ranger to be named the Team's MVP (as chosen by the media) and to receive the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award (as chosen by the fans) since 1987-88, which was the first year the Steven McDonald Extra Award was presented. Zibanejad joins Adam Graves (1992-93 and 1993-94), Mark Messier (1994-95 and 1995-96), Brian Leetch (1996-97), Wayne Gretzky (1997-98), and Henrik Lundqvist (2017-18) as the only players to win both awards in the same season.
Zibanejad has skated in 80 games with the Rangers this season, registering 30 goals and 42 assists for 72 points, along with 47 penalty minutes. He has established career-highs in numerous categories in 2018-19, including goals, assists, points, total ice time, shots on goal, faceoff wins, and takeaways, and he is also averaging a career-high in time on ice per game. Zibanejad, who was named one of the Rangers' alternate captains prior to the start of the season, also leads the Blueshirts in several categories in 2018-19, including goals, assists, points, power play goals, power play assists, power play points, shots on goal, takeaways, and faceoff wins. He is the only Ranger who has skated in all of the team's games this season.
The 25-year-old has accomplished several feats during the 2018-19 season. Zibanejad tallied a point on 10 consecutive goals scored by the Rangers from Jan. 19 to Feb. 4, becoming the first player in franchise history to accomplish the feat. He recorded the game-winning goal in three consecutive games from Jan. 15 to Jan. 19, becoming the second Ranger in franchise history to do so (along with Rod Gilbert, who did so during the 1966-67 season). Zibanejad became the first Rangers center to record at least 30 goals in a season since Eric Lindros (37 in 2001-02). He is one of three centers in Rangers history who have recorded at least 30 goals in a season when 25 years old or younger (along with Mark Pavelich and Darren Turcotte), and he is also one of three centers in franchise history who have registered 70 or more points in a season when 25 years old or younger (along with Walt Tkaczuk and Mark Pavelich).
The Players' Player Award has been given annually since the conclusion of the 1958-59 season and recognizes the Ranger who, as selected by his teammates, "best exemplifies what it means to be a team player." Fast was named the recipient of the Players' Player Award for the fourth consecutive season, becoming the third Ranger to win the award in four straight seasons (along with Jean Ratelle (1967-68 - 1970-71) and Brian Leetch (2000-01 - 2003-04)).
Fast, 27, skated in 66 games with the Rangers this season, registering eight goals and 12 assists for 20 points, along with 26 penalty minutes. He was named one of the Rangers' alternate captains prior to the start of the 2018-19 season. Fast ranks sixth on the team in hits this season (120), and he recorded at least 100 hits in a season for the fourth time in his NHL career. He skated in 66 of the Rangers' first 72 games of the season prior to missing the final 10 games of the season due to an upper-body injury.
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