While it is depressing for the vast majority of us, Sens wunderkind Mika Zibanejad
turns 20 today, bringing his era as the lone teenager on the roster to an end.
What's interesting to note is his performance as a teenager vs. other touted Sens prospects. Obviously given the Sens very respectable draft history, they have had a fair number of players break into the league before their 20th birthday. While Mika was the only one to make that jump this season, he is not the only one on the roster to have done it before.
Let's see where he stacks up.
Rk Player From To Count1 Alexandre Daigle 1994 1995 932 Wade Redden 1997 1997 823 Stan Neckar 1995 1996 804 Radek Bonk 1995 1996 775 Martin Havlat 2001 2001 736 Erik Karlsson 2010 2010 607 Chris Phillips 1998 1998 548 Mika Zibanejad 2012 2013 459 Jason Spezza 2003 2003 3310 Mike Fisher 2000 2000 3211 Marian Hossa 1998 1999 2512 Pavol Demitra 1994 1994 1213 Radek Hamr 1993 1994 1114 Alexei Yashin 1994 1994 1115 Nick Foligno 2008 2008 1016 Andrej Meszaros 2006 2006 417 Jared Cowen 2010 2010 1
As we can see, Zibanejad has played the eighth most games as a teenager with the Senators and, in that time, managed a very respectable 21 points. His growth this season has been particularly impressive if we note that 20 of those 21 points have come this season in a much more demanding role than most developing centres would handle given the absence of Jason Spezza.
Spezza, in many ways, is an interesting comparable for Zibanejad. Obviously they have much different skillsets with Spezza being the much more offensively touted of the two, but their production during their age 19 seasons is quite similar. Spezza posted 21 points in 33 games, while Mika, noted above, has put up 20 in 36. Again, though, Zibanejad has done this in an elevated role on a team that has been shorthanded for much of the year. In Spezza's 19 year old season, the Sens were a 52 win team that went to game seven of the conference finals.
It's also worth noting that Zibanejad has 16 even strength points this season, while Spezza had nine. Their usage has been much different, in large part due to the demands of the respective rosters.
This isn't to say Zibanejad will match Spezza's 621 points in 611 games as he matures. There's simply no way of knowing. But what this does indicate is that he's clearly progressing well in his development as an NHL centre. Spezza, being one of the elite centres in all of hockey, is no easy predecessor to live up to, but those looking to mark where Zibanejad is trending can take some solace in those numbers.
Having them both in the lineup for years to come with Kyle Turris in the mix is a very exciting thought.
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