Binghamton -- I finally had a chance to visit Broome County Arena, home of the Binghamton Senators. It’s an older building with character and the seats are very close to the ice. While watching practice I was instantly noticing Mika Zibanejad, 6th overall pick of the Ottawa Senators in 2011.
He has been playing center for a long time but that day he was on the wing and it looks like the Sens and coach Luke Richardson plan to use him as a left winger. Why? Because he’s played at both spots in his career and he is very dangerous coming down on the wing with the opposing defenseman not knowing whether or not he will dish it or shoot it.
Here is my scouting report on him:
Has played center and wing. Wing seems like his position. Controls the play well. Has a lightning fast shot and superb skating skills. Plays a good two-way brand. Scored the “golden goal” against Russia to get Sweden their first gold medal since 1981 in the World Junior Championships last year.
When he was drafted he was listed as 6-0, 176 pounds. He’s now a much sturdier 6-1, 200 pounds and when he’s on the ice he’s very hard to defend against.
His skating looks more fluid and his shot is very fast and he can snipe out the top corner which is hard to defend for any goaltender. His ability to start and stop on a dime is special.
“I haven’t skated since late July, early August,” he said, but it wasn’t noticeable. “I haven’t seen games in a while. I played some games in Lake Placid. I think I have to start over again. Getting into game situations and getting my timing back. I should be fine.”
Right now during the lockout he knows playing the AHL is his best chance to get to the NHL right away when and if their season starts.
“I can’t focus if we’ll solve that problem or not. I just have to focus where I am right now. Not take anything for granted, play as much as possible and just play as well as I can to further my development.”
He would like to be a top-six forward on Binghamton but when I asked him if he was shooting for the top line? He quickly answered, “Absolutely. It’s hard to say that right now.”
The B-Sens now have a burgeoning Swedish presence on the team that should make these youngsters feel right at home.
“Frederick Claesson just came over with me. We roomed together the past few years on road trips so we know each other pretty well, Zibanejad said. “We’ve played together the past 3-4 years and obviously with Robin Lehner and Jakob Silfverburg. It’s a good group of guys.”
This talented Swede has a few goals heading into this season.
“It’s early in the season but I want to be an all-around, two-way player. Just try to get better with everything. Just try to improve. It’s hard but I’ll just keep working.”
Fans in Binghamton will enjoy a very exciting season.
Photo courtesy of Susi. Zibanejad pictured playing football up in Lake Placid.
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