Mika Zibanejad: Best & Worst Case Scenarios Next Season


The 2015-16 season is still a long ways away. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t look into the future and predict what may happen with the Ottawa Senators. What I wanted to do was look at many players on the Senators and evaluate their best and worst case scenario for next season. I won’t do every single player because that would take forever, but I would like to do most of the top players.

First up is Mika Zibanejad who is coming off a career year with 46 points. Let’s take a look.

Worst Case:

Zibanejad is still only 22 years old. He isn’t exactly a proven veteran yet, and there’s a chance that he takes step back. Not all progress is linear, as occasionally a player will have a poor season after enjoying a breakout campaign. A lot of the time players will take a step back simply because their shooting percentage is just regressing, but perhaps mentally and physically a player will not be as good.

That can happen to anyone, and it would be foolish to think that it’s impossible to happen to Zibanejad. We don’t know what his mindset and character is like, and all we can hope is that he strives every day to be better and better. But young players might lose some of their drive if they get cocky, and a 20-goal season is definitely something to brag about.

I’m not suggesting that Zibanejad’s mind is in the wrong place, I’m simply putting it out there that it’s a possibility. Remember, this is the worst case scenario.

Even without considering his mind, Zibanejad’s scoring numbers might take a hit. Last season he had a 13.3% shooting percentage, but his career average over 200 games is 10.6%. He also had three fewer shots than in 2013-14 despite playing 11 more games. We always want to believe that a young 22-year-old player will increase his goal totals, but a 13.3% shooting percentage is quite high.

That may drop down a bit, and if he can’t increase his shot totals then his total goals scored will go down.

Mar 17, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; Ottawa Senators forward Mika Zibanejad (93) skates against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Ottawa Senators defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The good news is that even in a worst case scenario, he should easily be able to get 12-15 goals. In 69 games in 2013-14 he notched 16, so if he can stay healthy then a dozen would be a very low total which is the worst case scenario. As for assists, he had 26 last season and 17 the year before that (in 69 games), so I would say 20 assists is the lowest I can see him getting.

If everything goes wrong for him, he’s looking at a 12 goal, 20 assist season. That would be a massive step back for a player that all of a sudden has first line potential. If he isn’t used properly and his other linemates struggle to score, then a 32 point season would be the worst case I can imagine. Even in the case though, he would almost certainly still be the second line centre.

Best Case:

The best case scenario is quite positive, as Zibanejad’s ceiling is looking much higher than originally thought. With a 46 point season last year, I don’t see why 60 points is too far-fetched. Reaching the 60 point mark nowadays is quite the accomplishment, so if he did get there it would mean a massive step up in his game.

But if his growth actually is linear then there’s a chance that he could reach those heights. There were points last season where he looked like a first line centre, and I wonder if he will eventually overtake Kyle Turris in the lineup. As of now Turris is still the better option for sure, but if Zibanejad gets off to a hot start then perhaps he will get a bump in ice time.

Zibanejad is built like a first line centre at 6’2″ 200 lbs and has the speed and physicality to keep up with other top lines. Whether he can actually use his assets to become the player he wants to be is another story, but the potential is there. He may not take that next big leap forward this season, but if he puts in lots of hard work and tinkers his offensive game then there’s at least a chance we will see a dominant player in 2015-16.

I would say his best case scenario is 25 goals and 35 assists

It’s hard to imagine him taking over Turris’ first line role, but in our fake world we can say he does. Turris may struggle early on, and if that’s the case then rolling with Zibanejad could be huge for his overall growth. Over his career I think he will be a 50-60 point player, and next year I would say his best case scenario is 25 goals and 35 assists. That’s five more goals and nine more assists which really isn’t that much. However, getting 60 points would be a big achievement.

For him, his goal should be to have the first line centre role by the end of the season. It’s possible, but he needs to improve his game once again after taking a leap last season.


In the end, out of the two I really think the best case is more likely. I don’t think either of them will happen completely, but I just can’t picture him getting worse next season. He may not get as many bounces, but his assist totals should increase and he will most likely improve his possession numbers.

I am pretty optimistic about his next season even if we are in store for a bit of regression in the goal scoring department. What do you think is more realistic for Zibanejad?

Next: Should The Ottawa Senators Trade Mike Hoffman?

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