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  • Writer's pictureGarth Wickham

What's Going on With Filip Zadina

AP Photo/ Paul Sancya

In our season preview episode of the podcast, I predicted that this would be the year that Filip Zadina broke out for the Red Wings and he would lead the team with 27 goals. As of Friday November 19th Zadina has 3 goals through 19 games, roughly a 13 goal pace. This begs the question, what is going on with the Red Wings’ 6th overall pick in 2018?


Coming into the 2018 draft Zadina was projected to go in the top 3 with the likes of Rasmus Dahlin and Andrei Svechnikov as he recorded 82 points (44 goals and 38 assists) in 57 games. Those are elite scoring numbers and he had been compared to the likes of David Pastrnak and even Nikita Kucherov going into the 2018 draft. Red Wings were looking to draft a defenseman and to ex- General Manager Ken Holland’s surprise, Zadina was available at 6. Following the draft Zadina played 59 games with Grand Rapids recording 16 goals and 19 assists for 35 points, which isn’t huge production, but for an 18 year old in the AHL it is very respectable. He was also able to play 9 games with the Red Wings without burning his first year of his ELC (entry-level contract) and actually scored his first career goal and recorded 2 assists.

Building off of that first season pro, Zadina split time between Detroit and Grand Rapids where he began to show flashes of what he could be. In Grand Rapids it was obvious that he was NHL ready as he had 16 points (9 goals and 7 assists) in 21 games with the Griffins and was called up throughout the year. Zadina played 28 games in Detroit and was one of the Wings best forwards when he played as he recorded 15 points in 28 games which is a 44 point pace if he would’ve played a full season. He became a power play threat as he had 7 of his points on the man-advantage including this snipe.

With this production as a 20 year old in his second season pro, Red Wings fans assumed that things would only get better from here with Zadina. He would round out his game on both sides of the puck and become that true first line winger that the Red Wings haven’t had in a long time.


Since the 19-20’ season Zadina has played 68 games and has had 26 points and only 9 goals, far removed from the pace of half-a-point per game. He is underperforming relative to expectations but it is quite early to be throwing out the term “bust”. This season through 19 games Filip Zadina has 3 goals and 4 assists for 7 points which from a production standpoint is not good enough. Granted his linemates for the majority of the year, Robby Fabbri and Pius Suter have also been struggling production wise with 8 and 7 points respectively. That is not for the lack of opportunity as according to MoneyPuck , the trio rank ninth in the entire NHL in xGoals per 60 minutes with 3.46. If we want to simplify that, with the chances the trio are generating and where the chances are coming from, they should almost score a goal per game. Obviously the goals haven't come yet, but this is an encouraging sign especially when Zadina is the guy a lot of nights driving those chances. Zadina is a confidence driven scorer and right now he doesn't have a lot.

When you look at this play here at first glance all you see here is all the two main components to score, time and space. Zadina had plenty of time to try to fool the Vegas goalie Robin Lehner, instead he quickly snaps the puck on the ice into the pads.

I think Zadina's development really hit a plateau in the 20-21' as he was tasked of carrying his own line for long streches. To start the 20-21’ season Zadina was on the second line with Bobby Ryan and Robby Fabbri, who had a very solid start as Ryan scored 4 goals in his first 3 games and Zadina assisted on two of those. But the Red Wings fell victim to Covid-19 as 7 players including Zadina went into the protocol and he ended up missing 7 games. After the Covid-19 protocol the injury bug hit the team and all lines were juggling and we saw Zadina with the likes of Namestnikov, Gagner, and Filppula. Not ideal talent for an NHL top-6 and especially for a developing 6th overall pick. He was able develop some chemistry with fellow countrymen Jakub Vrana after he was traded to Detroit from Washington and they connected on a couple sweet goals.

In the 2018 draft there is really only one player I would take over Zadina that was available after the selection and one I debate over. Those are Quinn Hughes and Joel Farabee. Picked 7th and 14th respectively, both have done very well compared to their draft slot. Hughes is Vancouver’s #1 defenseman and runs their PP and has a 53 point season under his belt. Vancouver is struggling to start this season and Hughes has questions about his play in his own end, regardless he’s an elite talent. Farabee is a surprise and has been a top-six guy for the Flyers the past two seasons and broke out for 20 goals last season. This season Farabee has very similar numbers as Zadina with 7 points in 14 games after signing a big extension. I am not quite sure who’s the better player at this point but I do think Zadina has more raw talent than Farabee. But comparative to his draft class he ranks 7th in scoring with 44 points through 105 games. So the Red Wings basically have gone even so far on that pick based on production.

Filip Zadina is still only a 22 year old player with and elite hockey mind and plenty on talent to go with that. At times this season, Zadina has looked like one of the best players on the ice and others I couldn't have told you if he played or not. Take the Dallas game for example, after an awful period and a half from the whole team including Zadina, Blashill calls a timeout and switches Veleno and Zadina for two shifts to spark something.

You see immediately that Zadina has more jump in his step and skates with authority, finding open ice where Gagner throws a sweet pass over for the backhand goal. I think often this year that Zadina has just been shooting to shoot and with that comes a low shooting percentage (3% at 5 on 5). On this play we see Zadina shoot like he's trying to score which is something that he needs to continue. There is still so much time this season for Zadina to find his scoring touch and it is way too early to be calling Zadina a bust. I think that the key is for Zadina to stay out of his own head and shoot with authority. I am curious on the conversations that Red Wings' assistant coach Alex Tanguay has been having with Zadina. I think Tanguay could be a huge key for Zadina unlocking his scoring potential and getting on a hot streak.

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