GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Center Mika Zibanejad, the Rangers’ leading scorer, has been diagnosed with a concussion and will be out indefinitely, the team announced Thursday.
On Tuesday, Zibanejad participated in the morning skate and in pre-game warmups before being ruled out of that night’s game against the Florida Panthers, which the Rangers lost, 5-4.
Coach Alain Vigneault said after practice on Thursday that the concussion stems from a seemingly innocuous hit by Detroit’s Darren Helm on Friday. Zibanejad, who has a troubling history of concussions, played on Sunday. Vigneault said he wasn’t made aware of any concussion symptoms until Tuesday morning.
“My understanding is when he got hit against Detroit — at the end of the game, he got hit by Helm in the corner — it didn’t seem like much,” Vigneault said. “My understanding is he did talk to the docs after. Felt fine. We had optional [practice] the next day. Came in. Did off-ice [work]. Played the next game. Felt fine. He had a day off on Monday and then he came in for our morning skate [Tuesday] and wasn’t feeling well. Had symptoms.”
Zibanejad has 11 goals and 22 points in 24 games.
Veteran David Desharnais, who was initially a healthy scratch Tuesday, was called in from home at 5:30 p.m. to replace Zibanejad on the first line with Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich. The former Canadien recorded three assists and was in the same spot in practice on Thursday.
The Rangers, who will likely have defenseman Ryan McDonagh back for Friday’s game against Carolina after he missed four straight games with an abdominal strain, have 12 healthy forwards and expect to stay that way.
“At the end of the day, we called up Davey at 5:30 to come in and take warmups and play that night and that line was good,” Vigneault said. “That’s what happens in a season. We lost [McDonagh] and some other guys stepped up. In the last game, Davey stepped up.”
Zibanejad’s absence also may affect the power play. With a team-high 11 points with the man-advantage, Zibanejad has been a key producer on the unit, which once ranked in the top four of the NHL. But in the last seven games, the power play has dipped, with just one goal in the last 18 opportunities, and has slipped into a tie for 11th at 21.2 percent.
Rangers deal for Holland. The Rangers acquired forward Peter Holland from Montreal for forward Adam Cracknell.
Holland, 26, has appeared in 243 NHL games over parts of six seasons with Anaheim, Toronto and Arizona. He will report to Hartford.
“I remember him a little bit more when he was with Toronto,” Vigneault said. “I thought he was a good player. Our guys were able to make a deal [Thursday] that gives us a little bit more depth in the middle. He’s got some experience. So he’s going to go to Hartford, get some minutes, and he’s definitely a guy that we could call up in the future.”