Filip Zadina had a very confusing 2020-21 season. The eye test shows that Zadina improved his play this year, but all stats point to the opposite; production and possession metrics both took a dip. However, fans of the Detroit Red Wings shouldn’t be concerned. Next year, Zadina is going to finally begin filling those nets.
A Frustrating Year
2021 was a tough season for Zadina. On the ice, it seemed like he was “gripping the stick” a bit much; after every failed attempt to cash in on a scoring chance, Zadina’s frustration was palpable. After scoring 15 points last year in 28 games (8 goals and 7 assists), he only managed to secure four more points with 21 more games. His corsi-for percentage also went from 10.2 in 2019-20 to 2.1 in 2020-21.
An easy answer to the question of the regressing production? His shooting percentage halved this season. Last year, Zadina managed to put up a shooting percentage of 13.2; this year, it fell all the way down to 6.2. One doesn’t need to dig into stats to understand the frustration, simply watching the games this year told the story. Although he’s a natural goal scorer, Zadina just seemed completely snake bitten. He’d regularly miss a clear shot in the point or on the breakaway, typically followed by a frustrated yell.
If Zadina can slow down the game and just keep doing what he’s doing, the goals will come. As a nearly elite shooter, his stats will almost certainly regress to the mean this season. If his shooting percentage bumps up just a few point (Or if his puck luck just turns around a bit), he has a good chance to lead the team in scoring.
One Step Back, Two Steps Forward
Although the statistics don’t necessarily reflect it, Zadina did improve his overall game heavily in 2021. It has reached almost Luke-Glendening-faceoff levels of over-discussion, but it’s true: Filip Zadina became a better two-way player this year. On a team where plenty of its forwards improved defensively, Zadina led the way in terms of development. He became defensively sound, and more impressively, began to develop and hone his skills as a puck hound. Zadina kept the motor going in the offensive zone without the puck, constantly putting pressure with his forecheck and poke check to force turnovers and keep defensemen on their heals.
Zadina is learning to become a threat without the puck. Opponents can’t afford to become complacent in the defensive zone, or he’ll just steal the puck and create a scoring chance. Similarly, Zadina has improved as a defender, leaving little breathing room for his defender.
Zadina’s improvement was clear to anyone watching consistently this season. Although the numbers don’t show it, he’s becoming a better player in nearly every facet of the game. Defensively steady, capable of forcing turnovers and hounding opponents; it’s only a matter of time before the numbers start to reflect the talent. If there’s one Wings player that’ll almost certainly increase production next season, it’s Zadina. When that shooting percentage regresses to the mean, he’ll be Detroit’s best goal scorer (Besides Jakub Vrana) and probably the best forward on the team.
Statistics sourced from hockey-reference.com