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Sens prospect Zibanejad to play in North America this season

Aug 10, 2012, 12:00 PM EST

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After playing most of last season with Djugardens of the Swedish Elite League, Mika Zibanejad will spent 2012-13 in North America.

That’s the word from NHL.com as Ottawa assistant GM Tim Murray said Zibanejad — taken sixth overall at the 2011 draft — will either be with the Senators or their AHL affiliate in Binghamton next season.

“He’s staying no matter what,” Murray said. “Whether its Ottawa or Binghamton, we’re not sending him back. So he’s here.”

Zibanejad made the Senators out of training camp last season as an 18-year-old, only to be sent back to Djugardens in late October. Murray said the “loss of confidence” played a big role in returning Zibanejad to Sweden — confidence that quickly came back.

Upon his return, the talented center scored notched 13 points in 26 regular season games and scored the overtime goal in the championship game at the 2012 World Juniors.

Zibanejad will face a tough test cracking the Ottawa lineup this year. Jason Spezza and Kyle Turris seem entrenched as the No. 1 and 2 centers, meaning he’ll battle with Jim O’Brien, Peter Regin and Stephane Da Costa for a spot.

  1. theawesomersfranchise - Aug 10, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    It’s in the Sens best interest to have Zibenejad pushing Turris for the #2 center spot. Turris can lose focus for stretches here n there.

  2. charleslouis99 - Aug 10, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    gotta love the sens strategy to draft plenty of Swedes.
    really can’t go wrong imo

  3. 19inarow - Aug 10, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    Unless there’s info I’m not aware of about this player, under the current CBA rules, he can’t play in the AHL. That was the issue with Johansen, Niederreiter, and Connolly, last year, as well as Strome et al, this year. Maybe that’s just the agreement b/w the NHL and CHL, so having played in Djugardens, for instance, doesn’t apply? I’m not particularly interested in CBA stuff, but it’s affected me as an Isles fan. Too good for the CHL, but not yet ready for the NHL. Sigh…

    • Mike Halford - Aug 10, 2012 at 6:41 PM

      “Maybe that’s just the agreement b/w the NHL and CHL…”

      Correct. It’s a deal between the two leagues. Others (like the USHL, NCAA, Europe, etc.) don’t have a similar agreement, so guys like Zibanejad are free to play wherever next season.

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