2011 Draft Prospect Profile #10: Mika Zibanejad
Photo by Andreas Grandin, courtesy of Djurgarden Hockey.
Date of Birth: April 18, 1993
Place of Birth: Huddinge, SWE
Ht: 6' 2" Wt: 192
2010/2011 Regular Season Stats:
* U20 games / SEL games
Born to an Iranian father and Finnish mother, Mika Zibanejad started playing hockey at age 6, and since then has been on a steady path to the pro leagues, playing for AIK IF's youth organization before being traded to Djurgarden's U18/U20 program - the same parent team as former Jackets' goaltending prospect Gustaf Wesslau.
Graduating to the Swedish Elite League on December 7, 2010, he scored his first goal two weeks later, and played in 26 of Djurgarden's remaining 29 SEL games and 7 playoff contests. Already learning how to play among men despite still filling into his impressive frame, he has a reputation as a smart, thoughtful two way player who can figure out the best ways to break a defense or shut down an opponent, and isn't afraid to throw his body around.
One small hitch is that he recently signed a two year extension with Djurgarden, and unless there's an NHL "out" clause, it might mean that any club drafting him would need to wait before getting a chance to introduce him to the North American game.
A talented and technical player, Zibanejad is a big, strong, hard worker who dictates the pace of every shift he plays. He has a rocket shot with a tremendous release and can score from a variety of areas in the offensive zone. His intensity creates a lot of turnovers and it's obvious opposing defenders are aware of his presence on the ice.
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.
Why He'd Be A Good Fit In Columbus:
One of Scott Howson's constant priorities since coming into the organization has been to build depth down the middle. With Zibanejad's big frame and powerful skating ability, he could be a great fit on a "power" line with R.J. Umberger and Jake Voracek, or even adjusting into a "dangerous" third line checking center given his willingness to bust up an opponent's offense and create turnovers. His hard work ethic and fearless attitude also makes him a great fit for the identity that Scott Howson has hoped to create for the Jackets.
Remember we said he likes to throw the big hit?
For the other side of his game, here's Mika's first career SEL goal - check out how he creates this opportunity!