One of the most exciting times of the year is upon us as we are less than two days away from the NHL Entry Draft which takes place beginning Friday June 24th at 6:00 P.M. Eastern time. The Florida Panthers will be drafting in the third position just as they did last season, and we here at the Rat Trick are going to break down some of the possiblities.
Today, we’ll look at Mika Zibanejed. The 18 year old Stockholm, Sweden native has spent the past two years playing for Djurgardens IF (Sweden), first for their J-20 team before moving up to their senior roster this past February, where he scored nine points (5 goals). While those numbers don’t sound so great for a guy ranked as the second best European skater from NHL Central Scouting, it should be noted that Zibanejed played as a then 17 year old in the Swedish Elite League against much older competition.
Zibanejed is thought to be another player who can both play center or right wing. And at 6-2, 191 lbs, he’s a big kid with a frame to handle some punishment. And while European players have a reputation of being soft far too many times, he’s known for his physical, two-way play, his desire to get to the ‘dirty areas’ to score and his ability to finish his checks. Check out this video to get an idea of his physicality. NHL Director of European scouting Goran Stubb had this to say about Zibanejed on his player page.
“Mika’s a real power forward but also has soft hands, good vision and fine skating skills. 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. Mika’s a competitive player who is willing to pay the price to score a goal. He does have a very good understanding of his defensive duties.”
Scott Campbell of thescoutingreport.org had this to say about Zibanejed:
A big asset to Zibanejad’s game is his competitive edge and willingness to engage physically. He’s a strong kid and he certainly is not afraid to mix things up on a consistent basis. Finishes checks and does not back down from battles in the tough areas on the ice. He has the ability to deliver some big-time checks for a skilled player and can change the dynamic of the game when he’s on the ice.
Judging by what’s out there about this kid, it’s easy to see why his name is coming up more and more as the draft approaches. But, I have to believe that he’s not an option for the Panthers at the third pick. But should the Panthers move down, or somehow pick up another pick in the top 15, one would think this kid would be on Dale Tallon’s wish list. The thought of somehow getting a player like Zibanejed to couple with a forward pick at third overall is beyond the wildest dream of Cats fans for this draft. Here’s to hoping! Less than 48 hours until it all unfolds!
I leave you with this video of Zibanejed getting the best of fellow countryman and likely top 2 draft pick, Adam Larsson.
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