Mika Zibanejad knew from the moment the New York Rangers traded Derek Stepan that his role would be more substantial.
Now he has the contract to match.
The Rangers avoided arbitration Tuesday and signed Zibanejad to a $26.75 million, five-year deal that carries a salary-cap hit of $5.35 million through 2021-22. With Stepan gone, the 24-year-old Swede goes into the season as New York's new No. 1 center.