The Sens have won 3 in a row and have now played their 9th game of the year, which of course means it's decision time when it comes to a very high profile rookie. Mika Zibanejad, who was the 6th overall pick in June, now awaits his fate from GM Bryan Murray, a fate that may be decided as early as later today.
You see if Mika suits up for his 10th game of the season, it means the first year of his entry level contract is activated and a year will be used up. So if the organization feels he isn't ready, he may find himself on a Euro trip in the next few days.
The two options are him staying in the NHL the rest of the year or heading back to Sweden to play in the Swedish Elite League. Despite what many think, he does not have the ability to play in the NHL like most Euro players do. His contract doesn't allow it, so it's Sens or Sweden. No exceptions. Which is too bad because the AHL is probably what's best for him for a few weeks before returning to Ottawa. After all, it sure helped Erik Karlsson 2 years ago didn't it?
So let's not dwell on what could be or what would be nice. Let's look at the reality of the situation shall we. Here are the pros and cons of keeping him in a Sens uniform this season.
- Let's be honest, he hasn't blown everyone away with his play yet.
- Sometimes he tends to struggle with faceoffs.
- He hasn't shown much offensive flair yet.
- Has 1 assist. Got it on the opening game vs Detroit.
- May be lacking confidence.
- Adjusting to North American game and ice surface
- Culture shock. Let's not forget the kid is a kid. He's 18 and 1000's of km's from home.
- Needs to be more consistent.
- We need a 2nd line centre.
- He has a ton of potential.
- Needs to play against NHL caliber players to improve.
- Even if not scoring, he can contribute in other ways.
- Has an NHL body.
- Has the right attitude to be coached.
- Has been improving his faceoff percentage.
- Came close to scoring several times. Hitting a post etc. Could have had 3 or 4 points at least through 9 games so far.
- He WANTS to be in Ottawa.
- Needs to play on NHL surface.
- The more young players play, the more improved they will be usually.
- Paul MacLean would like him to stay here for the year.
- Can play on the PP and the PK.
- Isn't afraid to be physical or block a shot.
Verdict: To me there's only one solution and it's to let him play out the season in the NHL. Has he lit it up? No. But he has been solid and definitely has not been a liability. Plus let's face it, he's 18 and still a bit star struck I'm sure. He will get better as the season goes on and he becomes more confident and comfortable out there on the ice. I think the offence will come and even when he isn't coring he is always giving his best and contributing out there. He skates well, plays hard, hits and isn't afraid to block shots. I think the only way he truly improves is to stay with the Sens and learn at the highest level possible. The play in Sweden just isn't good enough. For him to truly reach his potential and grow this year, I think he has to do it in Ottawa and I ultimately think that's the decision the Sens organization and Bryan Murray will come to as well.
Should he stay or should he go? let's hear your thoughts Sens Town Citizens.