Filip Zadina of the Detroit Red Wings is one of the best teenagers in the American Hockey League.
At the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, the Detroit Red Wings we’re gifted Filip Zadina with the sixth overall pick. Picked by many to go third overall and even having a chance at the second overall pick, Zadina fell a few spots and the Detroit Red Wings were ready to submit the pick right away. Filip Zadina and the elite offensive skill set that he brings was coming to Detroit.
Unfortunately, he had an abysmal preseason. He tallied only 3 points in 7 games, but fans fell in love with him because of his shot and ability with the puck on his stick in the offensive zone. His play on his own end was better than most people expected and seemed like he was at an NHL level defensively. The problem was that he lacked the physicality. He looked like an 18-year-old not quite ready for a top 9 role.
Normally a prospect in his draft year would have to go either back to their college or junior team if he doesn’t make the NHL club out of camp. But, that wasn’t the case for Zadina. Zadina had a professional contract in the Czech Republic with HC Dynamo Pardubice and was on loan to the Halifax Mooseheads. This meant he could play in the AHL as a European prospect.
The team decided that with some time with the Grand Rapids Griffins would allow him to develop the physicality and the speed that’d he need to play in the NHL.
The AHL is known to be league where physicality can dominate and eat young players alive. His offensive skill and ability to play against guys that will be targeting him can help him prove that he deserves to be on the Red Wings roster at some point this season.
Great Start with Grand Rapids
Initially, Zadina wasn’t ecstatic to go down to the AHL as he felt that he deserved to be on the Wings opening night roster. Yet, he is doing fairly well with the Griffins. He’s producing both as a goal scorer and a facilitator. He currently has 10 goals and 10 assists in 34 games.
Although this may not seem extremely impressive at first glance, he’s doing this having started the season as an 18-year-old. Teenage players in the AHL have been known to not produce and take time to even crack the lineup full-time.
Since the NHL lockout in 2004-05, only 19 players have had better seasons as an 18 or 19-year-old in the NHL in terms of points per game (pts/g). While Zadina’s point totals in the AHL aren’t the same as if he was playing at the NHL level, its worth pointing out that he point production isn’t bad when you compare it to others who played in the NHL as teenagers.
Zadina is currently sitting at .588 pts/g. He is behind players like William Nylander, Mikko Rantanen and Filip Forsberg and ahead of players like Artem Anisimov, Kasperi Kapenen and former Red Wing Tomas Tatar.
The World Junior Championships
Zadina was allowed to play for his home country, the Czech Republic. It was at the 2018 World Juniors where Zadina truly burst onto the scene dazzling with 7 goals in 7 games. His efforts helped in leading his home country to a fourth place finish.
But, this year’s World Juniors tournament didn’t go as well as last year’s. Only registering 1 assist in 5 games, he couldn’t lead his team to a similar result. The entire Czech team looked awful and that probably didn’t help Zadina’s productivity.
Return to Grand Rapids
After returning from the World Juniors, he seems to have hit his first real slump as he hasn’t recorded a point in 5 straight games.
If Zadina can get back to his pace of his first 30 games, he can finish the season strong and continue to prove that he is the Red Wings next offensive star.
If Zadina can get back on track and produce as he was, he has a chance to turn in a 45 point season in approximately 64 games. If he can puts a 45 point season, he’d end up with .703 pts/g. In addition, he’d have one of the highest scoring rates for a 19 year old in AHL history.
If Zadina can’t recapture his scoring rate and continues at a .588 pts/g pace, he would still have 38 pts. This would still be an impressive AHL season for a 19-year-old.
He is looking like a player that can help the Red Wings in the near future and a call-up at some point in the 2018-19 season isn’t out of the question. However, the Wings may decide to keep him in the AHL for the full season to push his contract another year to lengthen the team control of his contract. If the Red Wings keep Zadina in the AHL longer, it would also push his unrestricted free agency another year as well.
Filip Zadina is having an impressive season in the AHL. Even though he isn’t among the league leaders in points, he is producing at an elite rate. I assure you that he will be scoring threat when he does make it onto the Detroit Red Wings roster.
featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals