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Senators’ Zibanejad nears return after month on sidelines

James Reimer, Mika Zibanejad

Ottawa Sentaors’ Mika Zibanejad tips the puck past Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer to open the scoring during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Ottawa, Tuesday, Setp. 27, 2011. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Adrian Wyld)


Mika Zibanejad hasn’t played with Ottawa’s AHL affiliate, the Binghamton Senators, in nearly a month thanks to an unusual series of events, according to a Winnipeg Sun report.

What started out as a stint on the sidelines while he had his wisdom teeth removed snowballed when he got strep throat and then a nasty stomach flu. The good news is that he’s almost ready to return.

Binghamton head coach Luke Richardson likes what he’s seen from Zibanejad as far as his skating, shot, and his faceoff skills go. At the same time, he’s asked Zibanejad “to make sure he plays a real good, complete, defensive game.”

Although he’s still a teenager, Zibanejad already had plenty of experience playing against men in the Swedish Elite League when he made his Ottawa Senators’ debut last season. Still, this AHL stint is giving him an opportunity to adapt to North America hockey while the lockout drags on.

Zibanejad might end up as part of Ottawa’s opening game roster if the season is saved.