Red Wings: Is Filip Zadina finally turning a corner?

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Filip Zadina has struggled for a good chunk of the season. However, in the last few weeks, the young forward seems to have gained a bit of confidence. Could he finally be turning the corner in his development?

Of course, glancing at the stat sheet isn’t to helpful, considering just how bad the start of the year was for Zadina. He has the tenth most points on the team, with seven goals and nine assists through 50 games. According to Evolving-Hockey.com, Zadina’s goals above replacement is -3.3 (0.9 expected) and his wins above replacement is -0.6 (0.2 expected). His possession metrics are actually quite solid, with a Corsi-for relative percentage of 6.3 and Fenwick-for of 5.8.

Zadina has bounced all around the lineup this year. At first, he mostly played with Robby Fabbri and Pius Suter on the second line. After a lack of production there, Zadina was slotted down to the bottom-six. After a short spurt of good play, head coach Jeff Blashill pushed Zadina to the top line, alongside Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond. While he hasn’t been there consistently, the team seems to be relatively comfortable with Zadina in the top line unit for now.

The Czech forward has two goals in his last four games. That’s not too impressive, but considering his previous struggles to find the back of the net and produce, it’s slightly reassuring. And, more importantly, Zadina is passing the eye test. While he’s not performing anywhere close to what Tyler Bertuzzi was doing on the top line (which is an unfair ask), Zadina doesn’t look out of place. He has clean, smart zone entries, can drive offense and isn’t a black hole defensively.

Zadina still isn’t quite at the level that fans expected when he was selected sixth overall in the 2018 NHL Draft. However, based on his recent play, it seems as though he might finally be taking the next step in his development.

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