Silver Nuggets: Expectations for Mika Zibanejad

USA TODAY Sports

After coming off a pretty good rookie season, how much improvement can Mika Zibanejad show this season?

Mika Zibanejad has had an eventful start to his NHL career. Since being drafted, he played 9 games for Ottawa in 2011 before returning to Djurgården for the remainder of the season. In between he played for the Swedish U20 team and then returned to Ottawa to watch the playoffs with the team. He had only 1 point in Ottawa and 13 in 26 games in the Swedish league, although he did famously score the gold medal winning goal for the U20 national team. He reportedly had either one or two concussions as well during the 2011-2012 season.

The 2012-2013 season was interrupted due to the NHL lockout and Zibanejad struggled in his time at the AHL, scoring just 11 points in 23 AHL games. He was also out yet again with a concussion toothache. Once the NHL season started, Zibanejad stayed in the AHL but was eventually called up after Ottawa's injury parade began. Initially used as a winger, he began to improve when he was moved to centre and ended up tallying 20 points in 42 games which is a 39 points pace over 82 games.

He is likely going to start the season as the third line centre and should see easier match-ups this year with the return of Jason Spezza. Zibanejad's most common linemate was Jakob Silfverberg last year (44%) of the time and then it was an assortment of wingers such as Erik Condra (24%), Cory Conacher (19%) and Chris Neil (18%). Even with Spezza's return, Zibanejad should be able to have a similar quality of wingers as last year.

Zibanejad didn't see a whole lot of ice time, averaging 13 minutes a night so a drop in ice time shouldn't be a problem. The one area he might suffer is power play time where he played 2:05 on average. Having said all that, what do you expect from Zibanejad? I think a full season's play and 40 points from the third line should be a solid step in his development. Are your expectations higher? Lower?

Senators news

  • Jared Cowen and the Senators are still "far apart" in negotiations with Jared Cowen. Bruce Garrioch feels that Cowen might be looking at something like 7-years and $27 million. That would be an insanely long commitment for someone that has been a #5 defenceman so far in his career. (Ottawa Sun)
  • Yet another article on Alfie's desparture. (Ottawa Sun)
  • The Senators re-signed Stéphane Da Costa to a one-year contract. Presumably it is a two-way deal. (Senators Extra)
  • The club has apparently been trying to trade Jim O'Brien. They have not been successful. (Ottawa Sun)
  • Travis Yost has another updated on the Eugene Melnyk financial situation. (HockeyBuzz)
  • Peter Levi projects the Binghamton Senators lineup for the coming season. (Eye on the Sens)
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