OTTAWA - Mika Zibanejad arrived in Ottawa early for training camp.
He wouldn’t mind staying awhile.
The Senators top pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft in June decided not to return to Sweden after attending an under-20 tournament with his national team in Lake Placid, N.Y., and landed in Ottawa late Sunday night.
“I’m really excited,” said the 6-foot-1 Zibanejad. “It’s my first training camp so I’m really looking forward to it.
“I want to give the coaches a hard decision (about whether) to keep me here or send me back home. Hopefully, I can stay here in Ottawa.”
Nobody is sure if Zibanejad has got what it takes to make the Senators this season, but there’s an opportunity for him to be the club’s second-line centre if you look at the club’s depth chart. Getting here early isn’t going to hurt his chances.
Zibanejad will attend rookie camp and is going to take part in the annual tournament for newcomers Sept. 10-13 in Oshawa.
He’s spent the past few days skating at the Bell Sensplex with local pros. Skating here should help him get at adjusted for camp.
“We’re going every day, (except) for the weekend, so it’s a good experience,” said Zibanejad.
“(Daniel Alfredsson) was here, (Chris) Neil and (Matt) Carkner. It was fun. You’re watching them now and you’re skating with them, so it’s pretty cool.”
Zibanejad spent last season with Djurgarden, Sweden.
“(I’ve) got three weeks here to give myself the best chance to make the team this year,” he said.
The 18-year-old will wear No. 93 at the Sens’ training camp.
“It’s my favourite number. It’s my birth year, so why not?” he explained.