With the Red Wings’ preseason slate more than half over and the fans starting to worry about the curse of the dreaded undefeated exhibition season, we’re starting to get some level of clarity on how roster battles are shaking out. The defense remains a bit of a mystery thanks to a large portion of hte veteran defenders being either day-to-day or worse, but the forward battles appear to be tightening. Today we got a hint about an expected move from the beat writers:
Judging by Blashill's comments today, unless Zadina makes significant impact these next few days, Zadina likely headed to GR...still learning, adjusting to the pro game #RedWings— Ted Kulfan (@tkulfan) September 26, 2018
Zadina, Detroit’s first-round pick in the 2018 entry draft, coming in at 6th overall has played four preseason games for the Wings so far with 1G 1A 6 SOG and is averaging 11:42/G on-ice. He’s also -3 on the ice. He played an additional four games at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament for the 2nd-overall Red Wings’ squad, adding another 1G and 2A to his preseason stat line.
Overall impressions of Zadina tend to mirror what Kulfan reports above though: you can definitely see his draft pedigree and that he is a talented kid, but it’s also been evident that he’s got some adjustments to make in the transition to the next level.
Fortunately, Zadina is a rare case of a 19-year old who doesn’t have to be reassigned to his junior club if he’s not with the NHL team. Although there were questions about this earlier in the summer, the NHL is confident that based on his contract status with his European team, Zadina will be eligible to be assigned to the AHL this season where he can continue his growth in a league that should offer an opportunity to make those adjustments.
Additionally, thanks to the way the CBA is worded on this assignment, unless Zadina plays more than 9 games with the Red Wings this season, his contract won’t count against the 50-contract limit for Detroit and will automatically slide by one year while he plays for the Griffins.
While this course of action prevents a lot of Red Wings fans from being able to see Zadina play against NHL competition, it positions the team effectively to extend an extra year of contractal control over a kid who still has a bit to learn which can be taught at the AHL level. Zadina should quickly become a leader playing heavy minutes for the Griffins rather than fighting for limited space and minutes on Jeff Blashill’s roster. This also affords extended looks for guys like Michael Rasmussen and Evgeny Svechnikov, who are older and a bit more-developed than Zadina.
The biggest concern isn’t that Zadina won’t ripen in the AHL, but that he’ll overripen and spend more time down there than is good for a prospect like him. Unfortunately, I can’t shake that concern myself, but I’m going to file that away among the things that it’ll be worthwhile for me to get upset about when I actually see it happening.