Detroit Red Wings: Is forward Filip Zadina’s future in doubt?

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill is trying to light a fire under Filip Zadina by making him a healthy scratch and then skating him on the fourth line in his return.

Zadina is again underperforming offensively for the Detroit Red Wings, and Blashill is trying to garner his attention. However, the results didn’t come Saturday night in Los Angeles; Jeff certainly got Filip’s attention.

After being a healthy scratch for the first time since being a teenager playing alongside men with Pardubice HC in the Czech Republic before joining the Halifax Mooseheads for one year of junior before being drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in sixth overall in 2018.

Leading up to the NHL Draft, Zadina was widely considered a top-three selection and had often been mocked to the Montreal Canadiens behind Buffalo, selecting Rasmus Dahlin and Andrei Svechnikov landing in Carolina. Instead, the center-needy Habs chose Jesperi Kotkaniemi, leaving Zadina to fall to Detroit at six.

Detroit Red Wings forward Filip Zadina has yet to live up to his pre-draft hype.

After being passed over by Montreal, Zadina quickly said he wanted to make Montreal pay for passing him over by filling their net with goals; well, the now 22-year old hasn’t just been able to fill Montreal’s net; he is struggling to fill anyone’s net.

Over 119 career games, Zadina has amassed 19 goals and 47 points. That compared to Dahlin’s 24 goals and 129 points as a defender over 231 games, and Svechnikov’s 71 goals and 166 points through 235 games just proving the Red Wings forward has yet to live up to his pre-draft hype.

If you’re wondering, Kotkaniemi has appeared in 204 games, recording 29 goals and 78 points. He also played a critical checking role in Montreal’s Cinderella-like playoff run beating Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vegas before losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final.

Zadina has scored just four times this season and has totaled 10 points in 33 games.

Detroit Red Wings fans seem to get a bit testy when criticizing Zadina, but it’s not like Blashill hasn’t given Zadina every opportunity to succeed in 2021. He began the year playing on Detroit’s second line alongside Robby Fabbri and Puis Suter, with Jakub Vrana sidelined for at least four months due to a shoulder injury requiring surgery.

Zadina has also been a member of Detroit’s second power-play unit, where he’s scored half of his goals this season (2), plus has added a pair of assists. Detroit desperately needs Zadina to become a scoring threat during five-on-five situations. Still, it appears like he’s in a constant battle not only with opposing players but also his mind.

It’s evident Zadina lacks confidence, and when a young player is gripping their stick a bit tighter than they should, things tend to go south in a hurry. I have no issue with Blashill sitting Zadina down for a game, plus scribbling him in on the fourth line in his first game back in an attempt to hit the reset button, but I’d like to see Blashill give him a chance Sunday in Anaheim back on Detroit’s second or third line to see how he responds.

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If Zadina continues to struggle, don’t be shocked to see general manager Steve Yzerman attempt to deal the once highly-touted forward ahead of the March 21st NHL Trade Deadline for future assets. At this point, a fresh start may not be the worst thing for the struggling forward.