How far will the Rangers get this season?

Possible First Round Pick: Mika Zibanejad

Zibanejad (Via

Zibanejad (Via

The Rangers currently have five defensemen under the age of 28 on their roster and two more top prospects on the way, so it’s very likely New York will be looking to add some offensive firepower with its first-round pick, No. 15 overall in the NHL Draft.

Between now and June 24th, we’ll take a look at some of the forwards that the Rangers might be thinking about taking on draft day.  Today, we look at…

Mika Zibanejad

HT: 6-2

WT: 191

Pos: C

Shoots: R

Birthday: 4/18/93

Team: Djurgarden

2009-2010 stats: 8g, 12a, 14gp, 10PIM (Djurgarden Jr. B)

2010-2011 stats:

3g, 2a, 2gp, 2PIM (Djurgarden Jr. B)

12g, 9a, 27gp, 12PIM (Djurgarden Jr. A)

5g, 4a, 26gp, 2PIM, +1 (Djurgarden)

7g, 6a, 9gp, 10PIM (Sweden – World Under 18’s)

2010-2011 playoffs: 1g, 1a, 7gp, 2PIM (Djurgarden) profile > 



The Hockey News: 11

CSS: 2 Midterm Rank: 3 (European Skaters)

ISS: 6 

TSN: 9 Midterm Rank: 19 

TSN (Craig Button): 5 

The Scouting Report: 7 Midterm Rank: 25

Bruins 2011 Draft Watch: N/A

Corey Pronman: 7

ESPN: 11 

Highlight Reel > 


What They’re Saying

THN – “The gaudy offensive numbers have not been there for Mika Zibanejad, largely because he’s playing in the Swedish Elite League and young players often get buried on strong teams.  Generally speaking, young players who do not put up big numbers in that league improve when they mature as NHL players and scouts are counting on that being the case with Zibanejad.  Like Landeskog, he’s physically developed and capable of playing with men.  Unlike Landeskog, he hasn’t had to live with the pressure and expectation of being a go-to offensive player.  ‘He’s a powerful skater, has a good shot and finishes his checks,’ one scout said.  ‘I think he’s going to go in the top 10, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him in the top five.’  In addition to size, he has versatility.  That will serve him well in the NHL.  ‘He’s a strong kid who can play center or the wing,’ a scout said.  ‘He has power traits to his game.  He’s not physical, but he drives the net.’”

The Scouting Report – "Zibanejad is the biggest riser in the final rankings this year; something that doesn’t come as much of a surprise given our placement of him in the mid-term edition. The versatile Swede has a big body and plays both ends of the ice equally well. Skates well and can cover a lot of ice from the center position while being strong in the face-off circle. Might not have the highest offensive ceiling out of some of the players in the Top 10-15, but still has first line potential and could still be a great second line center if his offensive upside isn’t there."

Bruins 2011 Draft Watch – “The best Europe-based forward prospect for 2011 and zooming up boards a legitimate power center option. Outstanding pivot with size, skating, sense, shot and spirit. Not a blazing fast skater, but has a fluid stride that will get more powerful as he gets stronger in his leg drive. Has very good edge control and leans into players, using his strength and power to go to the net. Has the ability to separate with breakaway speed, but is more of a straight ahead player than a shifty, elusive one. Already plays a physical game and still has some growing and filling out to do. Willing and energetic hitter. Excellent puckhandler who sees the ice well, has soft hands and a quick, heavy shot. Knows how to find the soft areas of the offensive zone and isn't afraid to unload when the shooting lanes are there. Slick passer/playmaker as well. Plays with some fire and competitiveness- wants to be the best player on the ice and has some real swagger and personality. Good, solid defensive awareness. Not a stellar defensive player, but will backcheck and play responsibly in his own end. A kid who exudes personality, passion and determination- you can read it in his face and actions on the ice. Not many weaknesses to find in Zibanejad's game. Initial quickness and first step need to improve along with agility and footwork, but is a wide-base skater with solid technique and fundamentals, so he should be able to address this with speed/agility drills and off-ice plyometrics. Also has a bit of a temper- must learn to keep his emotions in check at times.” 

Corey Pronman - "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. Zibanejad has 55 puck skills and will on occasion flash plus. 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. At times though, he does get a little too cute with his passes. His shot is solid to above-average, with a noticeably hard wrist shot and mechanics that let him get shots off from non-ideal stances and he has been used as a trigger man on the power play. Zibanejad projects as an above-average physical player, but at the moment still has a thin frame and a major need to bulk up. Despite that, he is a tremendous forechecker who causes many a turnover with how he physically pressures the opponents. He's very smart with his stick, getting it in lanes and causing disruption. When you top it off with the fact he runs into any opponent who has the puck and with his relentless motor in both ends he has high-end upside as a defensive forward and penalty killer. He should fast track to the next level, and could be a top-tier two-way forward in the NHL who can line up at center or wing."

Elite Prospects – “Zibanejad is a very skilled center with great hockey sense and hands. He plays the game of a modern power forward, has a big frame and skates very well. Goes into heavy traffic without thinking twice. Will initiate physical play. Takes his defensive responsibilities seriously. A terrific faceoff man.” – “ ‘Mika's a real power forward but also has soft hands, good vision and fine skating skills,’ NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb told ‘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.’” – “A talented and technical player, Zibanejad is a big, strong, hard worker who dictates the pace of every shift he plays. He has a rocket shot with a tremendous release and can score from a variety of areas in the offensive zone. His intensity creates a lot of turnovers and it's obvious opposing defenders are aware of his presence on the ice.” – “Zibanejad jumped from No. 3 among Euro skaters in the CSS midterms to No. 2 in the finals. One scout's read: ‘At the U-18s he was playing out of position ... moved over to the wing to play beside Victor Rask [see Fallers below]. Still he solidified his status. As the season went along it just looked like he was stronger and stronger on his skates. You knew that he was a pretty physically mature kid but not to the degree like we saw at the 18s. If he builds on this, he can be a pretty imposing player at the next level. And he's willing to get into it. Physically, we had him high but he went higher. Over the course of the season, we liked his game more and more.’  Stockwatch: Will not be around for the 12th overall pick.”

Kyle Woodlief, Red Line Report – “Zibanejad is a rugged power forward with size and a big-time shot. He combines speed with power and dominates below the circles at the offensive end. He's also impossible to contain if allowed to build up a head of steam through the neutral zone. Though he plays on the wing internationally for Team Sweden, at Red Line we believe he'll be better suited at his natural center position in the pros.”



Mock Drafts:

Adam Kimelman, – 6 

Mike Morreale, – 10 

Steven Hoffner, – 15

Deven Persaud, - 10 – 11 

Gary Joyce, ESPN – 7

Mark Seidel, CBC – 10 

Hockey's Future - 6

The Hockey News - 10


Thoughts: As a European prospect, much less is known about Zibanejad than most other draft prospects.  By all accounts, he has the potential to be a big-time power forward, a rare commodity in today’s NHL.  Scouts say he is the type of European player that will transition well to the NHL, but he’s planning to play at least another year in Sweden, so his NHL debut could be way down the road.  There's not much chance of him being available at No. 15.

The Rangers typically take a European forward or two in the later rounds of the draft, but have taken just two Euro-league players (Alexei Cherepanov in 2007 and Lauri Korpikoski in 2004) in the first round in the last 17 years. 


Season Review:

Breaking Down The Defense >

Breaking Down The Goalies >

Breaking Down The Offense >

Breaking Down The Prospects >

How Three Free Agent Signings In 2007 Have Shaped The Eastern Conference >

Spotlight On Glen Sather >

Spotlight On John Tortorella >


Player Reviews:

Spotlight On Mats Zuccarello >

Spotlight On Brian Boyle >

Spotlight On Matt Gilroy >

Spotlight On Ruslan Fedotenko >

Spotlight On Brandon Prust >

Spotlight On Bryan McCabe >

Spotlight On Alex Frolov >

Spotlight On Michael Del Zotto >

Spotlight On Martin Biron >

Spotlight On Brandon Dubinsky >


Possible First Round Pick:

Zack Phillips >

Sven Bartschi >


Mark Scheifele >

Mika Zibanejad > 



Posted by Kevin Baumer | May 18, 2011 at 11:51 am

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