Senators Rookie Profile: Mika Zibanejad

This is my tenth and final profile of a Senator rookie.

Mika Zibanejad, C/RW, Contract: 1.775/14 (RFA)*
1-6 2011 (Murray), 6’2, Shoots R, YOB 1993, Huddinge, SWE
2009-10 J18 Elit 14-8-12-20 10pim
2009-10 SuperElit 14-2-2-4 4pim
2010-11 SuperElit 27-12-9-21 12pim
2010-11 SEL 26-5-4-9 2pim
*the numbers of this contract have yet to be confirmed by capgeek

Central Scouting’s second highest ranked European,  Zibanejad split the year playing for Djurgarden’s junior and men’s team.  An assistant captain for Sweden’s under-18 team (where he tied with undrafted Gustav Bjorklund for the team lead in points), he was considered one of players in the draft closest to being NHL-ready (“Like Landeskog, he’s physically developed and capable of playing with men“, says a scout quoted by The Hockey News).  Full scouting reports on Zibanejad can be found here eyeonthesens.wordpress.com/ 2011/06/26/reviewing-ottawas-2011-draft, so I won’t repeat them verbatim, but his pre-draft rankings ranged from #4 to #14 (with ISS comparing him to Jarome Iginla and Red Line Report comparing him to Brenden Morrow).  Zibanejad credits his older brother (Monir Kalgoum) for helping him “He helped me with the small details like faceoffs and how I should attack D-men in the offensive zone. He’s a center, too, and has been a role model for me during his career” (http://www.nhl.com/ice/draftprospectdetail.htm?dpid=9735).

The Senators will not rush Zibanejad.  He will compete with Peter Regin as the second-line pivot and Bobby Butler for a spot on right wing.  Bryan Murray said “I’m hoping we’re going to give him a chance to be looked at, but we don’t expect him to carry that ball” (thehockeynews.com/articles/41464-Campbell-Fathers-life-provides-Mika-Zibanejad-with-perspective.html; Campbell’s article also talks about Zibanejad‘s father’s difficult life in Iran), while Tim Murray said he’d need a “big summer” to make the team.  I don’t believe Zibanejad will make the team, in which case he’ll be returned to Djurgarden in Sweden (something neither I nor Zibanejad see as a bad thing, “I don’t think that’s a bad idea to be there and maybe develop, get bigger and  stronger. Sweden is the second-best league in the whole world, so I think that’s  the plan“, www.ottawacitizen.com/Senators+draft+pick+ Mika+Zibanejad/5096550/story.html).  Should the Senators keep him on the roster, I anticipate he’ll receive bottom six ice time.  If he stays healthy and plays a full season then 20-25 points would be solid production (not many Swedish teenagers have dominated the NHL in their rookie years).

Highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZKX6v6tH5k
Interview by Hockey Futures: http://hockeysfuture.craveonline.com/default/video/2011-nhl-combine-mika-zibanejad-djurgardens-if-306705
Interviewed on The Team: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150705465750585&oid=254660295467&comments

I want to thank The Silver Seven (http://www.silversevensens.com/) for mentioning the blog.

My next series of profiles will look at Ottawa’s prospects who are expected to start the year in the AHL.  I’ll start things off with Mike Hoffman.

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