Prospect Report By: NHLPROSPECTREPORT
The Detroit Red Wings are an original 6 team, a team that I grew up hating. They were easy to hate, they had a ton of talented players and even more success. After an unbelievable run of making the playoffs from 1990–91 through to 2015–16 (25 years... something that might never happen again) and now they struggle to find an identity. With plenty of young talent in Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha there's plenty of reason for optimism in Motor City.
The Red Wings are a FRANCHISE. They know it, and they know how to build it. You don't have a run of success like they've had based on luck alone. They know how to draft and develop players, and they have no shame in sending a guy to the AHL for years until he's deemed ready. It's quite admirable, and furthermore it's easy to deal from a position of strength. Something the Red Wings are well accustomed to.
However, the Red Wings are no longer a powerhouse, and they are not dealing from a position of strength anymore. This may cause you to think that they might change their plan, but when something works, you don't mess with it. And the Red Wings' farm system works.
Detroit has one of the most stocked prospect cupboards out of any NHL franchise and they should be proud of what they've been able to do in a relatively short turn around. Big names lie in the wait in Michael Rasmussen, a centre from Tri-City, Tyler Bertuzzi (son of former NHLer Todd Bertuzzi), fast rising defenceman Filip Hronek, centre Joe Veleno and winger Jonatan Berggren. With every one of these prospects deserving NHL minutes, the Red Wings have some tough decisions ahead of them.
All of these prospects and yet none of them project to be anywhere near the player Filip Zadina is. During the 2018 draft teams like Montreal and Arizona opted to go for a positional need rather then the best player available. Then Ottawa made the bonehead move of passing on Zadina for the gritty Brady Tkachuk. Three teams all expected to be a lock for Zadina all opted to go in a different direction; proving that centreman are arguably the most valuable piece one can add at the draft in the eyes of today's GM.
However, when you pass on a pure goal scorer, one who carries some swagger, expect to have it bite you in the ass. As soon as Zadina was drafted by Detroit at 6th overall he said, “I was telling my agent, if they will pass on me, I’m going to fill their nets with pucks,” via Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. “I want to prove to Detroit that they make a pretty good decision.”
Zadina has every right to be cocky. He is an elite power forward scorer from the Czech Republic. Playing for the Halifax Mooseheads he put up impressive numbers in his draft year (44 goals and 82 points in 57 games).
What impressed me more was his showing at the WJC. The Czech Republic had a decent team with a good powerplay, with plenty of scouts talking about Filip's legendary shot. Boy, they weren't kidding. This kid can fire the biscuit. He put up 6 goals in 6 games played at the World Juniors and every one was well deserved. In fact I got goosebumps every time he touched the puck because you could just feel like it was somehow going in.
Zadina is an easy forward to project, what's more difficult is figuring out what the Red Wings will do with him. Notorious for shelving prospects to the point of unbelievable frustration. Will they let the 18 year old jump straight from the 'Q', or send him back to Junior. In my opinion, only a fool sends him back to junior.
The red wings can give Zadina 25 NHL games before he qualifies as a rookie, and I suggest giving him every single one to prove he can play, if not, send him back to Junior in typical Red Wings fashion. Although I seriously doubt that will happen.
Cheer up Red Wings fans, another streak is on the horizon.