|Centre Ilya Zubov led the Binghamton Senators in scoring in 2008-09 with 58 points and saw 10 games of NHL action in Ottawa (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images). |
The road to regular employment in the National Hockey League got a little shorter for Ilya Zubov
With a solid summer of off-season training under his belt, the 22-year-old native of Chelyabinsk, Russia, turned in a strong season in the American Hockey League, leading the Binghamton Senators in scoring with 52 points (14 goals, 38 assists). That surpassed the totals for his previous season in the AHL (38 points), and in 11 less games.
Zubov also earned 10 games worth of promotion to the parent club in Ottawa, collecting a pair of assists.
“He’s made great strides in a year,” Brent Flahr, the Senators’ director of hockey operations, said in assessing Zubov’s progress. “He produces points consistently down there (in Binghamton). He’s been given a chance up here a couple of times and hopefully, with another summer of conditioning, he can challenge for a spot (in Ottawa).”
Flahr describes Zubov as “a highly-skilled winger with great hands, very good offensive instincts and vision inside the offensive zone.” It was that combination, in great part, which led the Senators to make Zubov their second selection in the fourth round (98th overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
It’s further improvement in his conditioning level that will hold the key to continued development, added Flahr.
“(Zubov) needs to get stronger,” he said of the 6-0, 200-pound centre. “Off the ice, conditioning wise, that has to pick up. In order for him to play an offensive role at the NHL level, he needs that strength and the added quickness that will allow him to get separation to create the plays that he likes to (create).”
His play at the other end of the ice also needs work.
“On the defensive side, (Zubov) needs to learn – and he is learning – just what to do away from the puck that will allow a coach at the NHL level to trust him in important situations.”