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Sens draft pick Mika Zibanejad ready to roll up his sleeves

Ottawa Senators first round pick Mika Zibanejad, of Sweden, is all smiles at the 2011 NHL hockey draft in St. Paul, Minnesota, June 24, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Miller

Eric Miller/Reuters

A Q&A with Ottawa Senators sixth overall pick Mika Zibanejad:

Q. Do you know much about the captain?

MIKA ZIBANEJAD: A little bit. I was out for dinner with him, so we got a little bit of chat, so I'm really happy for it.

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Q. Were you surprised to hear your name that early? You were projected more down around 10 or 11?

MIKA ZIBANEJAD: Yeah, for sure. But I was in Ottawa and I got a good impression of them. I thought they liked me a little bit. But I was surprised. I wasn't ready for it. But, like I said, I'm so excited. It's so much fun.

Q. How many times did you meet with the Senators?

MIKA ZIBANEJAD: I had one meeting at the combine and one meeting in Ottawa.

Q. Did you get a sense during that trip in Ottawa that they were becoming more interested in you?

MIKA ZIBANEJAD: Well, obviously when they're bringing you to Ottawa, they're interested. I got a good feeling when I was there. There are great players there batting for that pick.

Obviously, to be picked by Ottawa that early is an amazing feeling. I'm very excited about it.

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Q. If you get the chance to make the team in the fall, do you think you're ready to play in the NHL?

MIKA ZIBANEJAD: I'll do everything I can, everything possible to work hard and to make it. Staying one more year is not a bad option too.

Q. Was it tough to play (Indiscernible)?

MIKA ZIBANEJAD: Well, in the beginning it was, but obviously after the first three or four games it felt like I was made for that level. I'm really happy I got the chance and opportunity to play with them and that's the level I wanted to play in. I got more confidence after the coach gave me ice time and all that kind of stuff. I'm really happy about it.

Q. Talk about playing in the NHL?

MIKA ZIBANEJAD: Yeah, for sure. They're bigger and stronger than the Juniors, and it's something I think I can take advantage of, so, for sure.

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Q. You did say that you're more of a North American player; can you explain why you said that?

MIKA ZIBANEJAD: Well, obviously, most of the guys are very skilled in Europe. I try to add to my physical part of my game and play physical and try to add to my skill. That's the way the North American guys play, and that's why I compared it to them.

Q. Was it easier making the transition when you've got some fellow countrymen from Sweden who will be a big part of that organization?

MIKA ZIBANEJAD: Yeah, for sure. I think being a part of the team with the Swedes is helping a lot. I think I can take that as an advantage, for sure.

Q. Can you describe yourself as a player?

MIKA ZIBANEJAD: Well, like I said, I play pretty physical. I try to use my speed. I try to use my skills, too, so an all-around player. I have much to develop and improve, but that's how I am right now.

Q. (Indiscernible)?

MIKA ZIBANEJAD: Actually my brother played hockey and he still plays hockey. He's been a big inspiration for me. I actually started to play tennis so that was what my dad wanted, but then I got stuck into hockey after the first time on ice. I really have to thank my family, especially my brother, too, to make it to the ice hockey road, so it's amazing.

Q. Did you fall in love with hockey?


Q. Did tennis go pretty quickly after that?

MIKA ZIBANEJAD: Yeah, I love tennis. I love to watch it, I love to play it, but obviously I love hockey that much that I switched. That's why I'm here right now. I have a passion for the sport.

Q. What languages do you speak?

MIKA ZIBANEJAD: English, Swedish, Finish, a bit Farsi, and I'm actually studying French right now. So lot of languages going on.

Q. (Indiscernible)?

MIKA ZIBANEJAD: Actually, my mom is from Finland. I think that is a natural move from Finland to Sweden at that time. Actually she was in another marriage before. My dad came to Sweden when he was 23 from Iran. I think that was during the Revolution time, so that was the biggest reason. Actually I don't know why Sweden, but they met and that's history now.

Q. Why did you decide to pick up French as another language?

MIKA ZIBANEJAD: Actually I have no idea. It was a thought maybe playing in the NHL maybe playing on a French-Canadian team. That was the thought behind that decision.

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