is one step closer to his dream
Zibanejad, the sixth player taken in last month's Entry Draft, signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Ottawa Senators
"I'm excited. It's a dream coming true, for sure," said Zibanejad, an 18-year-old native of the Stockholm suburb of Huddinge, Sweden. "You've always been dreaming, and you always have a goal to make it to the NHL. I think I'm one step closer, but there's so much hard work left.
"I'll try to do everything I can to make the team and help the Ottawa Senators
win the Stanley Cup someday. It's very exciting and I'm really happy."
Zibanejad had 5 goals and 4 assists in 26 games with Djurgardens of the Swedish Elite League last season. He had also 4 goals and 4 assists in six games for Sweden at the World Under-18 Championship.
Zibanejad has one year remaining on his contract with Djurgardens, and under the terms of the transfer agreement between the NHL and the International Ice Hockey Federation, Zibanejad had to sign with the Senators by Friday or he would have been obligated to return to Djurgardens to complete his contract there.
If he doesn't make the Ottawa roster this fall, the Senators are obligated to send him back to that club team in Sweden.
Both Zibanejad and the Senators are glad he'll be competing for a job in Ottawa this fall.
"It's great to get him signed," said Tim Murray
, the Senators' assistant general manager. "There was a bit of a push to get him signed if we wanted him to come over here and at least try out for the team this year. We thought that was important, that he get over here for part of the summer, then go through the full training camp and exhibition games so we could get a real good evaluation on him and go from there.
"The only way that was going to happen was if he did sign a contract."
Zibanejad is the fourth player drafted last month to sign a contract, joining Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
, Minnesota's Jonas Brodin
and Calgary's Sven Baertschi