2011 NHL Entry Draft Profiles: Mika Zibanejad

Position: C

Height: 6'1 1/2"

Weight: 191 lbs.

Team: Djurgarden (SEL)

GP (Including playoffs): 33 | Goals: 6 | Assists: 5 | Points: 11 

Midterm International CSS Rank: 3/Final Rank: 2

I'm not sure another player has seen his stock rise as much as Zibanejad has over the past few weeks. Originally projected as a mid first round pick when we started the draft profiles, Zibanejad has risen to the point where it's rumored he'll go not only top ten, but top five. The amazing thing- he deserves it.

Few enough players at the age of 18 have a developed two-way game, and if they do, they generally don't have the offensive skills to make project them as more than a defensive center. Zibanejad does. With a large frame that's still filling out, exceptional hockey sense and skill, and a dedication to moving up and down the ice, regardless of whether he's backchecking or forechecking, Mika Zibanejad is probably one of the most underrated prospects in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft- and that's with going in the top 10.

Originally looking like a pretty alright prospect while playing in the Swedish Junior leagues, he received a callup to Djurgarden in December, while a 17 year old, and played an incredibly strong game.

Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus had this to say about Zibanejad:

 Mika Zibanejad is a player who is just fun to watch. His combination of skill and work ethic make him a pest and a scoring threat on every shift that he's out on the ice for. He's a solid skater, with a smooth extension on every stride. Zibanejad consistently keeps his feet moving and is well conditioned which lets him jet up and down the ice for extended periods of time...He can make noticeable moves with the puck when standing still and moving in full stride. He's a sneaky good passer as well and more than once I've seen Zibanejad thread a seeing eye bullet pass through traffic that caught the defense completely off guard.

In what is an absolutely glowing review of Zibanejad, Pronman talks about defensive capabilities (constantly creates turnovers) and work ethic (tireless). What this says to me is that while Zibanejad will never light the world on fire, a la Alex Ovechkin or Steven Stamkos, he's a top end two way center much more in the model of Tomas Plekanec. A player who plays against top competition, out-shoots them, out-works them, and all around out-plays them. And that is exactly what the Flames need.

Will Zibanejad be available for Calgary at #13? Barring an arm falling off before the draft- not a chance in hell. That being said, if there's a player that Calgary has the assets to move up for and should move up to draft (assuming his draft position will likely be at 5-7), this is it. The other plus to him moving up so much is it moves other quality players down, and I have no complaints about that.

 Also of note: he's half Finnish and half Iranian. How cool is that?

Other SBN profiles of Zibanejad: Lighthouse Hockey; The Cannon

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