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Breakout candidate - Filip Zadina

August 26, 2021, 2:08 PM ET [20 Comments]
Jeremy Laura
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In recent history, I haven’t heard a player who has the abilities and potential that Filip Zadina has maligned as much as this 6th overall pick has been. In part, Quinn Hughes is the issue. Detroit needs defense, and that young man has the skills. Beyond that, pundits and fans are tearing into this player in a way that has me beyond puzzled.

From one writer, Zadina was called Hollands “greatest sin”. Some are saying he’s slow, can’t skate at the NHL level. Some are criticizing his shot. I’ve heard fans say the organization is ready to move on from Zadina. And then, in the same breath, hear how great Veleno is and how he’s surpassed FZ on the depth chart. When I point out that Zadina was promoted to the top 6 and Veleno continues to struggle, crickets.

Last season, Rasmussen had a huge step forward in his play. That earned him a third line spot. Zadina also had a huge step forward defensively and was a mainstay in the top 6. His backchecking stopped goals from being scored. He played 200 ft on a rebuilding team and made an impact. All the while his line had massive transition and turn over due to injury and illness. In short, Yzerman wanted Zadina playing in the NHL and that tends to mean something.

If you watch the drills up top, you can see what it is that pushes the young winger. He wants to be better, every day. Last year, the team pushed for stronger defense. That was the focus, and that’s where the results were. This year, Yzerman wants goals. They brought in a new face to the coaching staff and a veteran power play presence on the blue line. The addition of Vrana at the end of last season added another level of speed, and Pius Suter certainly has potential to pick up the pace on the 2nd line as well.

All in all, I think Zadina will add another level to his NHL game this season. I truly think he’ll hover around the 20 goal mark (18-22) and continue to build his value. He’s not Quinn Hughes. Thankfully, Yzerman is adding to the defense every year. This isn’t taking Cholowski over Chycrun. We have a player who has already contributed in Detroit. Whatever the general distaste by some of the hockey writers for the winger is, I believe this is a player that will step up and change the discussion.

As always, I’ll gladly concede if I’m wrong. If this is truly the “bust” that people are touting, I’ll own it. I just don’t think it is. Any time you hear players who haven’t been able to play or stay in the NHL hailed over someone who’s grabbed a spot, it smacks more of sour grapes (or possibly Zadina had an “unauthorized” opinion that ruffled the feathers of the Hockey finger waggers) than anything of substance.

For what it’s worth, I think Veleno and Berggren both will have good years as well. One or both could find themselves with some reasonable ice time in the “bigs” due to injury or impressive performance. Also keeping my eye on Raymond. Zadina, for my money, will be a name you continue to hear about this year (as was Rasmussen last year).

Check out my previous posts:

Hakan Andersson pounded the table for Liam Dower Nilsson

Thoughts on preseason games

Prospect to watch - Alex Cotton

recapping the 2020 draft

Fedorov jersey retirement puck seen online

Svechnikov signs AHL deal, PTO with Jets

Nielsen is being bought out

Seider vs Nedeljkovic for Wings rookie of the year?

The 2019 draft
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