The Ottawa Senators have made a surprising decision to start the campaign, sending sophomore Mika Zibanejad to AHL Binghamton rather than beginning the year in Ottawa.
Zibanejad, 20, was Ottawa’s first-round pick (sixth overall) at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and played well for the club last season, his first full NHL campaign. The Swedish forward finished fourth on the team in scoring (20 points in 42 games) — as a 19-year-old — then proceeded to score four points in 10 playoff games while averaging over 13 minutes a night.
The motives behind this decision are unclear, but it was known Ottawa wanted to keep Stephane Da Costa and were afraid of exposing him to waivers (Zibanejad doesn’t need to clear them to go to the AHL).
What’s more, youngster Jean-Gabriel Pageau has performed admirably this preseason and has apparently earned himself a spot on the team to start the year.
It’s also possible this move could’ve been cost-related. The Sens are working under a tight internal budget this season and Zibanejad, while still on his entry-level contract, does carry a cap hit of $1.74 million.