NHL Decision Day Update: Gudbranson stays, Zibanejad back to Sweden

As more and more NHL teams near the nine-game mark — nine games, of course, being the deadline when junior-age players can be sent back to their respective clubs — we’re starting to get a better sense of what this year’s rookie class will look like.

Earlier today, the Tampa Bay Lightning announced that Brett Connolly has made the team. Connolly, the first-ever selection by GM Steve Yzerman, posted just two assists in his first nine games, but is tied for the team lead with a plus-5 rating and is averaging 13:54 of ice time per game.

Shortly thereafter, Florida’s other team announced they’re also holding onto a prized prospect. The Miami Herald reported the Panthers will keep D Erik Gudbranson in the fold — he’s played in all eight of Florida’s games this year and GM Dale Tallon expects him to play No. 9 Thursday night in Ottawa.

Speaking of Ottawa, the Senators parted ways with Mika Zibanejad today. Zibanejad, the sixth pick of the 2011 Entry Draft, had just one assist in nine games, and was a minus-3. He’ll return to Djurgarden in Sweden, but this still leaves Ottawa with four rookie skaters: Jared Cowen, David Rundblad, Stephane Da Costa and Colin Greening.

As for the rest of the NHL, players we’re still waiting to hear a decision on include Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog, Adam Larsson, Sean Couturier, Devante Smith-Pelly and Brett Bulmer.

Bang it here (to steal a phrase from Pro Football Talk) for PHT’s take on which rookies will stay and which will go.

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