2011 NHL Draft: Mika Zibanejad, a Dark Horse for the Florida Panthers

Thomas KrulikowskiContributor IApril 11, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25:  Quinton Howden, drafted 25th overall by the Florida Panthers, stands on stage during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 25, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

A dark horse pick for Florida if Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are off the board when they draft is Swede Mika Zibanejad.

The 6'1" (and a half!) center only had nine points in 26 games this year. But look past the stats. He was playing in the Swedish Elite League, where most players are in their late twenties and early thirties.

A true post-lockout power forward, Zibanejad has soft hands and understands the need to bang defenders in the offensive zone. "I try to play physical but that's only because I want the puck back. Sometimes you have to finish your checks on defensemen in order to tire them out."

"I watch Sidney Crosby for the work he does at center; I watch Alex Ovechkin for the way he scores goals and I watch Pat Kane for the way he stickhandles," he says from an NHL write-up on him.

Not a bad mix. I wouldn't expect him to be taken in the top three, but if the Panthers fall to No. 4 or 5, he may be their guy.

Here are some videos:

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3



Link to Panthers Draft Discussion in Forum