4:12 pm: Zibanejad experienced a false positive test and has been removed from COVID protocol, per a team tweet. He’ll be available for Sunday’s game versus the Buffalo Sabres.
10:09 am: The Rangers announced (Twitter link) before their practice today that center Mika Zibanejad has been placed in COVID protocol. As is often the case with these announcements, there is no indication as to whether or not he tested positive or entered the protocol for another reason.
The 28-year-old is off to a bit of a quieter start by his standards this season, scoring just four times in 17 games although Zibanejad has chipped in with ten assists to place him fourth in scoring for New York. Zibanejad once again leads the way in terms of ice time by a forward, logging over 20 minutes a game. He’s in the final year of his contract that carries a $5.35MM AAV, a considerable bargain compared to the eight-year, $68MM extension that he signed last month.
Zibanejad tested positive for the virus prior to training camp for last season but that was only back in January. If this is indeed another positive test, he would be out for at least the next ten days which would cause him to miss New York’s next four games at a minimum. While that wouldn’t be enough time missed to accelerate their shopping for more forward depth, it would still be a tough blow to a team that has gotten off to a solid start this season with a 10-4-3 record.