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Top 25 Under 25: Filip Zadina Looks to Break Out at #6

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The 2018 first-round pick looks to make an impression this year

NHL: Preseason-Detroit Red Wings at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Position: LW/RW
Height/Weight: 6’0” / 196 lbs
Shoots: Left
Birthday: November 27, 1999 (19 years old)
Birthplace: Pardubice, Czech Republic
Draft: 2018 1st Round (6th overall)
Last Year: #3

Stats

What Do We Like?

There’s no denying Filip Zadina’s skill level, from his strong skating ability to the quick release on his shot. He was drafted in 2018 in the Top 10 of his draft class to be a scoring threat, and his junior career with the Halifax Mooseheads, albeit short, would indicate he’s more than capable—44 goals and 82 points in 57 games.

Zadina is such a smooth, agile skater in all three zones on the ice, and what sets him apart is his tenacity when pursuing the puck. Sound familiar? Many who follow the Detroit Red Wings will visualize comparisons to Pavel Datsyuk’s game. I’m not saying that Zadina will fill those skates on the ice, but he certainly shows similarities to the defensive prowess that Datsyuk carried in the lineup.

What Needs to Improve?

Zadina didn’t make as much of an impact in 2018 as Wings fans had hoped, appearing in just nine NHL games. However, after a slow start with Grand Rapids, he seemed to settle in and find his scoring touch. The biggest thing the 19-year-old will need to work on is his strength and conditioning if he plans to make the opening night roster, while managing to navigate through a grueling 82-game schedule. This is what Zadina told MLive.com’s Ansar Khan following a discussing with GM Steve Yzerman back in June:

“He talked to me a couple times about what I got to do better and where I have to improve my game, (and that’s) improve myself as an athlete. I enjoyed the time in Detroit. I’ll take it as it was, and I think it was a good season for me. I got to learn something, and I hope, and I believe that next season will be way better.”

I have to say I like the kids confidence. Improving his quickness should translate to better results on the score sheet and the Wings will look to Zadina to give the top line of Tyler Bertuzzi, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha some secondary scoring alongside Andreas Athanasiou.

Expectations for this Season?

It’s hard to say if Zadina actually starts the 2019-20 campaign in the NHL? Currently, the Wings have 13 forwards under contract on the NHL roster (per capfriendly.com) and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of wiggle room after Yzerman went ahead and brought in two former Tampa Bay Lightning players in Adam Erne and Valtteri Filppula (Wings fans are familiar with him).

Now, I think many of you that have followed along to my stance on Wings veterans, will know where I stand on Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm and Frans Nielsen, but those were Ken Holland’s contractual errors, and it won’t be easy for Yzerman to maneuver his way out of them. Since there are numerous immovable objects on the roster, Zadina will find himself jockeying for an NHL roster spot amidst a stockpile of potential NHL talent — Jacob de la Rose, Christoffer Ehn, Taro Hirose, Michael Rasmussen, Evgeny Svechnikov and Joe Veleno included.

As much as I would like to see the future young star play right away, is it really worth it if he’s not going to see significant Top-9 minutes? I don’t think so. There’s no denying a logjam up front in Detroit right now, so if he’s not seeing time with Athanasiou and playing power play minutes, then it might be a better idea to let him start the year again in Grand Rapids.

2019 Red Wings Top 25 Under 25:

25: Vili Saarijarvi
24: Ryan O’Reilly
23: Joe Hicketts
22: Albert Johansson
21: Robert Mastrosimone
20: Jack Adams
19: Albin Grewe
18: Otto Kivenmaki
17: Oliwer Kaski
16: Christoffer Ehn
15: Filip Larsson
14: Jared McIsaac
13: Jonatan Berggren
12: Evgeny Svechnikov
11: Taro Hirose
10: Michael Rasmussen
9: Moritz Seider
8: Dennis Cholowski
7: Joe Veleno