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NHL prospect Zibanejad garnering attention from scouts

TSN.ca Staff

6/2/2011 8:24:31 PM

Mika Zibanejad is projected by many to be a lottery pick in this year's NHL Entry Draft, but being put under the microscope isn't something the 18-year-old Swedish centre is used to.

"I enjoy it actually, it's fun," said Zibanejad. "I'm not used to this kind of attention, but it's fun to be in this kind of situation."

After scoring nine goals and six assists at the 2011 World Junior Tournament, Zibanejad has seen his stock steadily increase. The 6'2 forward finished the season in the Swedish Elite League, a fact that scouts are quick to notice.

"I'm not the typical European [player]," explained Zibanejad. "I'm a European [player], but I play like a North American."

New Jersey Devils director of scouting David Conte agreed with Zibanejad's assessment.

"He does play a lot like a Canadian," admitted Conte. "He's an up and down, strong, direct, and powerful guy, who has been playing with men in Sweden for the last year and a little bit more. So, his adaptations to be a professional over here may be somewhat excelarated."

Zibanejad, who grew up in Sweden idolizing Mario Lemieux and the Pittsburgh Penguins, was ranked 10th in TSN's April Draft Rankings and seventh by International Scouting Services at the end of May.

"When you're looking at the uniqueness at this type of player, I would be very surprised if he's there any longer than the eighth pick in the draft," said TSN Hockey Analyst Craig Button.

With most of the interviews now behind them, Zibanejad and the other prospects will now take a mental break and get ready for the grueling physical testing that begins Friday.

For complete coverage of Friday's NHL Scouting Combine, tune in to TSN at 7:30pm et/4:30pm pt. You can also talk draft and get updates with TSN.ca's Live Draft Combine blog beginning at 9am et/6am pt.

-With files from TSN's Natasha Staniszewski.