Senators forward Mika Zibanejad took some time out from his first day in Sens training camp to speak with the media about his upcoming season. Here's what he had to say...
On if this is his year to make a big jump after Spezza's departure:
I hope so, my thought going into the season was with him or without him I knew I had to step up my game and I wanted to step up my game. Obviously that changes a little bit but I don't think my mentality will change.
On his health:
Everything is good now and I'm supposed to be good to go. Nothing has been bothering me during the offseason. Obviously there's always something but nothing major.
On coaching staff expectations:
All I expect them to expect from me is to keep playing and keep improving. I don't think that just because Jason is gone I have to change my style of game. I don't think that's what they want. I think they gave me ice time last year because of what I've been doing and I've just got to improve that.
On this being a crucial year for his development:
I always want to get better and I put that pressure on me. I know there's some pressure coming from the outside but the most important pressure is coming from myself — being able to handle that pressure from myself and being hard but fair towards myself. It's an interesting year coming up.
On the areas of his game that have improved:
I think as a young player you have to improve pretty much everything. I've been working on my overall strength and hopefully that will show. I feel better on the ice and I feel stronger and better. We'll see at camp when it starts.
On the importance of consistency:
Last year I think I improved my consistency a lot compared to the lockout year. I felt like even though I went without points or goals for long periods of time I didn't feel like my game was dipping as much as it did the past year. Obviously I want to improve that and keep improving that but work on all the different elements.
On if there's a top six spot for him:
There's an opportunity for me to take it, absolutely, but it's obviously up to me. I just have to keep playing like I did last year. I feel like I've been improving this summer and coming into this season so I'm looking forward to it.
On his goal for the season:
To play all 82 games, to get a full season in. I haven't really had a full season the past couple of years here so it would be nice.
On playing centre vs. wing:
Obviously when you feel comfortable where you play it's going to help you because you have one less thing to worry about — where you're going to play. At the same time I feel like over the years I've proven I can jump around and play wherever they feel that I fit. I feel like I've just got to adjust to where they want me to play. It's centre right now and the middle is more comfortable.
On if he's comfortable potentially staying at centre after shuffling last seas:
Yeah, but whatever you want to say about last year, you take that and put it aside. It's in the back of my mind. I want to come in and show I'm more ready than last year. For me I'm just trying to take it a day at a time. It's testing day today and then a medical and we have some testing tomorrow and then we leave.