MIKA ZIBANEJAD Scouting Reports
Date of birth: 04/18/1993
Drafted: 1st round, 6th overall in 2011 by Ottawa
TRAVIS YOST @TravisHeHateMe
Mika Zibanejad’s one of the true blue-chip prospects coming through the Ottawa Senators organization. Drafted sixth-overall in the 2011 NHL Draft, the organization felt Zibanejad — a lauded two-way player during his junior years in the SEL — could immediately insulate the center-ranks for the club heading forward.
Unfortunately, a pair of concussions derailed an important growth and development year for Zibanejad, paving the way for his inaugural season during the condensed 48-game schedule in 2012-2013. Zibanejad’s numbers through his first seventeen games are OK for a rookie: four goals, and seven points total on an Ottawa Senators team that’s struggled mightily to score goals (2.1 GPG thru 23 GP).
Zibanejad’s underlying numbers, though, are what gives the organization hope that his first-year at the NHL-level have been successful to-date. With Erik Karlsson on the mend, Mika Zibanejad currently sits second-best on the team at driving possession courtesy Relative Corsi, a metric that studies shot differentials on-ice v. off-ice at even-strength. Zibanejad’s been getting a nice chunk of offensive zone starts (59%), so assuming he continues to move the puck north, the points will ultimately come.
As a Calder Trophy name, Zibanejad’s lack of point production will ultimately keep him from becoming a finalist. So far, though, Zibanejad’s looked every-bit the role of an NHL’er at the young age of nineteen.
The Good: Zibanejad is a prototypical do-everything forward with above-average or better tools across the board, and he is one of the more complete prospects in hockey. He’s an above-average skater who has shown some improvement in that area and generates good power from his stride. Zibanejad is a high-end puck-handler who can dazzle with his hands. He also is a good passer who will flash plus ability in that area. He has a bullet shot and can score from mid-distance. Zibanejad is a tremendous on-ice worker who barrels through each check and gives it his all every shift. He’s also a pretty effective defensive player who can play center or wing, although I see him as the latter down the line. He’s NHL-ready.
The Bad: Zibanejad will occasionally get a little too cute, forcing some plays. He has no real glaring weakness.
Projection: He could be a top line forward.
The hero of the 2012 World Junior Championship for the Tre Konor, just 19 years of age, is still figuring out how to best utilize his skill set to his advantage at the North American pro level. That goes for the American Hockey league as well, where he struggled in his 2012-13 lockout stint with the Binghamton Senators, averaging 0.48 points per game.
Mika is not unfamiliar to competing with grown men at the pro level, having featured regularly for famed Djurgarden of the Swedish Elite League at the tender age of 17 and at 18 upon being returned by Ottawa after his 9 game NHL rookie trial in 2011-2012. This experience, no doubt has contributed to his responsible two-way play, although an adjustment to the smaller surface remains a work in progress. He’s still quite raw at the NHL level, but will certainly be afforded more opportunities in 2013 with Jason Spezza out long term.
VIDEO: Mika Zibanejad First NHL Goal vs. Montreal Canadiens 1/30/13