Red Wings sign final restricted free agent, ink winger Filip Zadina to 3-year deal

Detroit News

Just like that, the Detroit Red Wings’ offseason checklist is complete.

The team on Friday announced a new deal for its final unsigned RFA, inking 22-year-old winger Filip Zadina to a three-year deal worth $1.825 million in average annual value.

On its face, the deal seems rather team-friendly. Zadina, a sixth overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, hasn’t quite played to the level of his draft position thus far in his career, and with an impending wave of prospects banging on the door for a spot in the NHL, it was fair to wonder whether the struggles of Zadina — a draft pick of former general manager Ken Holland — were starting to wear out their welcome.

After a nine-game stint in Detroit in 2018-19, he showed promise in the COVID-shortened 2019-20 season with 15 points in 28 games. That production regressed in both seasons where Zadina has played in the NHL full time. He had 19 points in 49 games during the 2020-21 season and further fell off this past year (24 points in 74 games) as star rookie Lucas Raymond scooped up top-line minutes.

More: Breaking down the Red Wings’ forwards: Free agents deepen group

Still, there’s hope Zadina can turn things around under new head coach Derek Lalonde. Twenty-two years old is still quite young, and a new voice at the helm — plus the newfound contract stability — could be the key to building Zadina’s confidence.

If Zadina does find his groove, the Red Wings will have him on a terrific deal through the 2025 season and walk him right back into restricted free agency. If Zadina continues to struggle over the next season or two and Detroit decides he’s not part of the future, he’ll still be young enough that they should have no problem moving him in a change-of-scenery deal.

Detroit signed RFA defenseman Jake Walman to a one-year deal worth $1.05 million earlier this month.

Twitter: @nolanbianchi

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