Mika Zibanejad, entering his second full season in the NHL (well if you count last year as a “full season”) and he will be one of the key factors in how the Senators fare in the coming season.
With the departure of Daniel Alfredsson and Jakob Silfverberg, Zibanejad will be counted on to provide a veteran-like presence. The big question is, where will his contribution come from? When all hands are on deck, will Zibanejad be the third line center or will he be a top 6 forward by shifting to the wing?
I have been on the record for a long time that I think Zibanejad should be a winger at the NHL level, and if he is going to be a top 6 forward that is where he needs to play. I like the lineup of Jason Spezza, Kyle Turris and Zack Smith as the 1-2-3 centres, with either Jean-Gabriel Pageau or Jim O’Brien as the 4th line pivot. And the top 3 wingers being Milan Michalek, Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur, leaving a spot open on the wing. The best candidates would be Colin Greening, Cory Conacher, Zibanejad or Pageau (or one of the rookie prospects like Shane Prince or Mark Stone).
So, while the prevailing public opinion seems to be that Zibanejad should fill the 3rd line center, I am very curious to see how it ends up.
So there are a few over/under questions regarding Zibanejad:
As for production, if you extrapolate his offensive totals from his rookie season over a full campaign, his totals of 7-13-20 would amount to close to 14-26-40. As a third line centre those wouldn’t be bad totals, but I think he is capable of much more than that.
In terms of goals,
How about points?