Zadina is becoming the impact player Red Wings saw in him
Filip Zadina “plays the game,” says teammate Dylan Larkin. “He looks to move pucks.”
Filip Zadina is showing signs of becoming the player the Red Wings envisioned when they took him with the sixth overall pick in the 2018 NHL draft.
The 20-year-old right wing has two goals and five assists for seven points in 11 games since being recalled from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League in late November.
More than the numbers, Zadina is possessing the puck and creating scoring chances on a regular basis. Those are the biggest differences in his play this season from the nine games he spent in Detroit in 2018-19.
“He’s making way more plays than he did last year,” Anthony Mantha said about Zadina.
Dylan Larkin agrees.
“I see him gaining more confidence as each game goes,” Larkin said. “He plays the game, he looks to move pucks. He’s not looking to get it off his stick as soon as he can. He’s trying to hold on to it, trying to make plays.”
Zadina first began contributing offensively on the forecheck a few games ago. He forced turnovers that turned into scoring chances.
“He’s a good skater. You see it with him when he’s engaged in that, and when he’s moving his feet and playing through bodies he’s more effective and it helps his game more all-around,” Larkin said. “He’s similar to Anthony (Mantha). When he’s moving on the forecheck and creating turnovers, it helps the line be more effective.”
Coach Jeff Blashill said Zadina has improved both away from the play and when he is in the middle of it.
“What I like is his play away from the puck is better. Probably two, confidence and play away from the puck. His competitive level away from the puck is really, really good right now. He lost the puck in the first and fought like crazy to get it back,” Blashill said after Detroit’s 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets last week at Little Caesars Arena, in which Zadina had a goal and two assists. “You can do way more things offensively if you get pucks back, meaning you can try to beat guys one on one, you can try to do those types of things because if you turn it over, you know you’re going to fight to get it back. And he’s done a way better job of that.”
Zadina also got a vote of confidence from the Red Wings organization this past Sunday. Detroit’s 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings that night was his 10th game of the season. That meant that his three-year, entry-level contract begins this season. And that means he will likely remain with the Red Wings for the rest of the season. He could still be sent down to Grand Rapids, but he would be making his NHL salary, so that probably will not happen.
Zadina found out the news from Blashill Sunday morning.
“It’s always a pleasure when he tells you that, but nothing has changed,” Zadina said about his conversation with the coach. “I just want to play the best hockey I can to help the team and earn my spot here and play with the players I’m playing with right now and help the team to win games.”