According to the Twitterverse, the Senators organization has reached a decision on the fate of Mika Zibanejad and he will be returned to Djurgarden of the Swedish Elite League. And just to emphasize their new patient philosophical approach as an organization, the team delayed their afternoon meeting with the press before GM Bryan Murray made the official announcement.
After spending the better part of the past month and half outlining the unnecessary risks and hidden costs involved in keeping Zibanejad around, I can finally move on to more pressing issues like "what deity did Konopka pray to in exchange for the blessed scoring touch that he displayed last night?"
Had the decision been left to me, I would have returned Zibanejad to the SEL at the conclusion of the preseason. That's not meant to be some condescending opinion of the organization or of the player, I simply want him to develop and the organization to succeed. For the latter to happen, much of it depends on how successful Zibanejad's development is.
While there is some debate as to whether another year in Sweden is more beneficial to Zibanejad than a year spent playing under Paul MacLean in Ottawa, there is no tangible evidence available to suggest that an extra year in Sweden will negatively impact his development. In addition, after doing some cost-benefit analysis, I simply don't believe that it's worth the risk of burning a year off of his ELC on the premise that his game may exponentially improve by year's end. Especially when players like Kaspars Daugavins have demonstrated that they're more than adequate to replace his minutes.
I will admit, I was slightly concerned that Ottawa's modest three game winning streak might have played a significant role in supporting a decision to keep Zibanejad – especially after Head Coach Paul MacLean said that the team's wins and losses would be a big factor. Thankfully, the organization looked past whatever short-term bias was created by the team's recent success and as such, the Senators should be lauded for making the practical and responsible decision.
Here's a look at his nine game audition:
– 9 GP, 0 G, 1 power play assist, 1 point, -3, 2 PIM, 12 shots and 15 hits.
– Averaged 12:54 in TOI/G. (18th on the team)
– Averaged 1:03 in power play TOI/G (11th on the team)
– Season high in TOI: 14:48 on October 11th versus the Minnesota Wild
– Seasoh high in hits: 4 in the team's opening night game against the Detroit Red Wings.
– On two separate occasions Mika registered season high 3 shots in a game.