Filip Zadina

Why Sharks' Zadina signing could pay off in NHL scouts' eyes

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Why might the Sharks' signing of Filip Zadina pay off?

San Jose Hockey Now spoke with three NHL scouts, an executive, and a coach who shared their thoughts about Zadina’s game and outlook.

Zadina, 23, was the Detroit Red Wings’ No. 6 overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. Billed as a future marquee scorer, the left-handed Czech winger has stumbled, netting just 28 goals in 190 NHL games over his first five seasons.

After signing Zadina to a three-year, $5.475 million contract last offseason, the Red Wings waived the 23-year-old winger when they couldn’t find a trade for him this summer. Because he had two years left on his contract, Zadina went unclaimed.

But then, Zadina took control of his career. In a shocking twist, he renounced the rest of his contract, walking away from $4.56 million cash so he could become a UFA and choose his comeback destination.

Zadina agreed to a one-year, $1.1 million contract with the Sharks on Monday.

For the Czech winger, the Sharks offer a world of opportunity -- only Anthony Duclair and Alexander Barabanov clearly are ahead of Zadina at wing on San Jose's depth chart right now – and he appears to have already forged a trust with head coach David Quinn.

Zadina’s agent Darren Ferris told San Jose Hockey Now that he “had higher dollar offers but wanted to go to San Jose after speaking to Quinny."

So what could the Sharks be getting in the former lottery pick?

"Liked the signing," Scout No. 1 texted San Jose Hockey Now. "Not sure why his development stalled so much, just hasn’t come along like Detroit had hoped."

"Seems like a good kid, injuries really hurt his development last year in a pivotal season," Scout No. 2 said.

"Zadina could never really stay healthy," the coach opined. "Came off a bad injury year before, then got injured early in season. Took him a long time to earn his ice time back after a slow rehab. Then he broke a bone again late in season."

While Zadina played 74 games in 2021-22, he suffered an appendicitis at the end of that season, throwing him off his summer training. Then last year, he missed 52 games with lower-body injuries, one that led to a broken bone in his right leg.

Being on the shelf for so long, not surprisingly, didn’t help Zadina’s confidence.

"I would rather go somewhere else to get the opportunity and prove [to] myself that I’m still a good player as I used to be," the young winger said himself on Tuesday.

“I think he got down on himself. [I’ve heard that] he struggles a bit with confidence. Very hard on himself," the coach noted. "He’s a really good kid. He needed a change."

The Red Wings adding Alex DeBrincat, J.T. Compher, Klim Kostin, Daniel Sprong, and Christian Fischer up front this summer probably wasn’t exciting for a young forward trying to establish himself in the NHL.

"I think he just didn’t want to be in the same situation where he had to jump over more players to gain a spot in top half of line-up," the coach offered.

As for his game? Well, there’s a reason why Zadina was on waivers.

"I always felt like Zadina was frustrating. Super-talented but too often would go missing in games. Effort is in and out," Scout No. 3 said. "It’s just that effort level and consistency."

But once again, the Sharks should give Zadina a good chance to find his consistency. He reports that he’s 100 percent healthy. And his skill has never been in question.

"[Can play] in San Jose’s top-nine with complimentary offensive tools. Skilled and has an NHL shot," Scout No. 1 projected.

Scout No. 2 agreed: "Has the ability to be an NHL contributor."

Scout No. 3 was more effusive.

"No real deficiency [in his game]. Skates, intelligent, skilled, 200-foot game. Can be physical, can play D," he said. "Just hasn’t put it all together consistently or figured out how to be effective every game."

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Besides consistency, the youngster, adept on both the left and right wings, is far from a finished, well-rounded product.

"Needs to get stronger and more interior," Scout No. 1 observed.

“Mostly a shooter, but not good enough to play such a one-dimensional game," an executive opined.

"He is skilled but not sure he is a natural finisher," the coach acknowledged.

But all said, Zadina is the exact type of player that the rebuilding Sharks should target, low-risk, high-reward. It could be a perfect marriage.

Scout No. 1 agreed, "Worth taking a chance on the upside."

"I think change will be good for him," the coach said.

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