The Ottawa Senators Have Quite The Player In Mika Zibanejad


When Mika Zibanejad was drafted 6th overall back in 2011 there were a lot of people who were praising Bryan Murray and his scouting team for finding another Swedish stud. Zibanejad was an 18 year old playing with grown men on Djurgardens IF Stockholm in the Swedish Elite league and it wasn’t long after that he’d score the overtime winning goal in the 2012 World Junior Gold Medal game. There were lots of predictions regarding how Zbad would turn out once giving the chance as a full time NHLer and I think this year he finally realized his potential.

Mika ended up playing in 80 games during the regular season, with the majority of those having Bobby Ryan by his side. Dave Cameron and Paul Maclean before him really wanted those two players to find some chemistry and it was rare to see them not playing together. When Mika was playing his best hockey, so was Ryan and perhaps you can say both of them feed off each other. 

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During the early season it seemed as though Mika had lost a step in his skating ability. He seemed sluggish and many were saying that he had once again come into training camp a bit over weight. Others stated his lack of speed was due to the fact that he had actually put on a significant amount of muscle mass and thus was the reason he looked a bit bigger.

In either case, Mika would not tally a point until the 10th game of the year, and would go on to only score 6 points in October and November. At this point of the season I had my doubts about him as the 2nd line centre, and was more than happy when David Legwand saw time in his place.

December 7th was not only the last game Paul Maclean would coach behind the Ottawa Senators bench, but it would also mark the best game of Mika’s season as he would register 2 goals and 2 assists in a 4-3 come-from-behind win against the Vancouver Canucks. He would finish as the games first start with two beautiful goals and would begin playing some of his better hockey of his young career. After Cameron took over the bench, I could tell that he had put some pressure on the Zibanejad line to elevate their game.

Although Mika wouldn’t light up the scoreboard like he did in that December 7th game, he had begun taking his game a bit more seriously and he would begin to use his body and size as an asset in the offensive zone.

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  • Over the next couple of months, like most young players, there would be cold spells. Mika would go scoreless in four games in February and five games at the end of March, but would end up registering 46 points in 80 games. Not to shabby for a 3rd  year second line centre.

    The majority of predictions had Mika finishing around 48-50 points and for the most part he was able to accomplish what people were expecting of him. Not only would he improve on his scoring numbers, but he would improve at the face-off dot as well by winning 48.8% of the face-offs he took, in comparison to 46.1% last year.

    for the most part he was able to accomplish what people were expecting of him

    Another drastic improvement would be in his defensive game as it was evident that Coach Cameron had pushed the right buttons in Zbad and had found a way to have him play more responsible in his own zone. Although not a true sign of a players defensive reliability, Mika would go from a -15 in 2013-14 to an even plus/minus in 2014-15.


    Like most Senators fans, I expect Mika to really focus on his conditioning during the off season and perhaps take some time to work on his skating ability. He has been known to take it a bit easy during the off season, but after the increased ice time and increased point production I don’t think he will want to give up his spot as the 2nd line centre.

    This season saw a lot of growth throughout the Senators line up with the likes of Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Cody Ceci and Jean Gabriel Pageau. I expect big things next year from all of those guys, but expect even bigger things from Mika Zibanejad and you should too.

    Next: Jared Cowen's Size Is Not A Skill

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