Senators prospect Mika Zibanejad staying in North America
BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
|Senators forward Mike Zibanejad is prepared to play in the AHL if there's an NHL lockout. (DOUG HEMPSTEAD/QMI Agency file photo)
OTTAWA - Mika Zibanejad was the last one off the ice Wednesday at the end of an informal skate at the Bell Sensplex.
He could have a lot of long days ahead.
The 19-year-old is getting ready to attend Senators training camp, scheduled to open Sept. 21 at Scotiabank Place, but like everybody else heís not counting on that actually happening.
However, Zibanejad wonít go running back to Sweden or searching for a place to play overseas if camp doesnít open on time because of the squabble between the NHL and the Playersí Association over a new collective bargaining agreement.
Instead, the Senatorsí No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft is preparing to pack his bags to head for Binghamton on Sept. 28 to suit up for the clubís AHL affiliate until the two sides settle and players are invited to come to camp.
ďItís a situation where you really donít know what to say. Iím just going to try to go with it right now,Ē said Zibanejad. ďIím going to work out, get ready and be prepared for whatever might happen.
ďI know Iím staying here (in North America). I donít have to go back home (to Sweden), so that helps a little bit because the focus is not on two places right now.Ē
Zibanejad suited up for nine games with the Senators last season before being sent back to Djurgarden in the Swedish Elite League. He was under contract with the Swedish club and Ottawaís only choice was to send him overseas when he wasnít kept here.
The season didnít go the way the Senators, Djurgarden or Zibanejad expected. He didnít get the kind of development assistant GM Tim Murray and player personnel director Pierre Dorion wanted because Djurgarden struggled to win games.
If there is a camp, Zibanejad will be competing with Jacob Silfverberg and Mark Stone for one of the Top-6 forward spots that is available. If not, the trio will be in Binghamton competing for ice time under coach Luke Richardson.
Zibanejad was in Binghamton late last season for a week after his season ended, but didnít play because of concussion issues. He is past those problems and played five games last month in Lake Placid with top junior prospects for the Swedish squad.
He has no issues with playing in the AHL.
ďIf I play there, I want to show something,Ē said Zibanejad. ďItís a good league to develop in and get a chance to get better. Either way, itís going to be good for me.
ďI got to play in Sweden last year. People back home wanted me to stay one more year before I went to the NHL. I did that now. I tried it out. Iím going to try this now by staying here and give myself a good chance to make it in the NHL. If the season starts, then I get a chance to get called up ó unlike last year. I knew I was going to be (in Sweden) all year.Ē
THIS Ní THAT: Sportsnet confirmed Wednesday if the season does start on time, it will have full Senators coverage. Fifty-three games will be shown on the clubís regional broadcaster with Dean Brown doing play-by-play, Denis Potvin as the colour analyst and Ian Mendes as host ... Senators winger Chris Neil didnít waste any time leaving the rink after the informal skate. He accidently caught Habs minor-league winger Michael Blunden with a puck above the right eye that needed stitches. Blunden skated off the ice and there was blood but he should be fine.