Not usually among the “Big Names Forwards” (Nugent-Hopkins, Landeskog, Strome, Huberdeau, Couturier) discussion in this coming draft when the Senators select number 6 is a guy who may be deserving of more attention, Swedish centre Mika Zibanejad. He’s currently making the rounds on some high profile scouting rankings being ranked 10th on Bob Mackenzie’s April rankings, number two on the April CSS European skaters rankings and number 14 on ISS’s March rankings. This large centre (6’2, 191lbs) may be an interesting player to watch as the draft approaches.
As I’ve been abundantly clear about over the past few days, I’m no scout. Hell, I’ve never even seen this kid play, but certainly based on the word of guys like Bob Mackenzie, and his wealth of insider information and other scouting services you have to wonder if this guy may be a rogue candidate to jump into the discussion when the Senators take the podium, assuming they do not trade up. As a fierce competitor and all around complete player he would appear to fit the mold of what the Senators seem to value these days. This big bodied centre could to be the type of guy to fill the hole at centre left by the departure of Mike Fisher and Chris Kelly. It also meshes with what Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino relayed on this video in November when Tim Murray said to him “I talked to Tim Murray, the assistant GM for the senators and he said in the last few drafts we really went after smaller skilled guys, as so the NHL has gone. Now what we want to do is start getting back into those more bigger skilled type players.” Certainly doesn’t rule him out does it?
Let’s see what those in the know have to say.
“Zibanejad is a very skilled center with great hockey sense and hands. He plays the game of a modern power forward, has a big frame and skates very well. Goes into heavy traffic without thinking twice. Will initiate physical play. Takes his defensive responsibilities seriously. A terrific faceoff man.”
From Bob Mackenzie:
“At the 2010 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Timmins, Ont., the 6-foot-2, 191-pound centre led Team Sweden with five goals and nine points in six games en route to a bronze medal.”
From an interview on DanSallows.com:
“I would say that I am a all-round-player. I´m quite big and strong. I have a good shot, and I believe I am a pretty good passer who sees the ice pretty well. But my weaknesses are my balance, which I am working hard with, and then I have to be a better skater. I am working hard to be more explosive in my skating. That’s the things I am working on this summer. But overall, a guy my age has to work on improving everything.”
“Mika’s a real power forward but also has soft hands, good vision and fine skating skills,” NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb told NHL.com. “He has tremendous balance and is hard to knock off the puck. He’s very strong in the battles along the boards, finishes checks with authority and has a heavy shot that he gets off quickly”
Craig Button on TSN.ca:
“He’s a guy who maybe hasn’t shown the offensive abilities at this time, but he’s competitive and will score points in the NHL.”
“A very promising player with power forward potential, plays the game hard and since joining the Elitserien squad from the junior program at the start of Dec, he has 4 goals and 8 pts in 25 games. He had 11 goals and 20 pts in 26 games with Djurgarden’s junior team prior to his promotion. He has above average offensive intelligence and good instincts around the net. He has a deceptively hard and accurate shot with a good release and is a dangerous shooter off the rush from both the middle and the outside lanes.”
Here are a few nice videos for you armchair scouts out there to salivate over…
So there you have it, the most information about a player one can derive based on the word and knowledge of others for those of us who have never seen him play. After reading so much about the possibilities for the Senators at #6 I don’t see why a guy like this could not be included in the discussion as well. Sounds like he could be a nice fit or maybe he’s just another literary creation of the internet.
I know Francois and Nichols will be very interested to see how he does at the combine.
In closing, I know we have a number of readers from Sweden so if any of you can chime in with your opinions please do so, or anyone who has seen this kid first hand in a game, I’d be really interested to get your thoughts and opinions on Mika or drop us a line on twitter @6thSens.