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Detroit Red Wings Dylan Larkin, Filip Zadina, Joe Veleno and Derek Lalonde, March 9, 2023 in Detroit.
Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press
The Detroit Red Wings placed former first round pick Filip Zadina on waivers Monday.
It has only been a year since general manager Steve Yzerman signed Zadina, 23, to a contract that runs through 2024-25 with a $1.825 million annual average value. The money wasn’t bad, but committing three years to a forward who has underachieved seems to have backfired.
Yzerman was not immediately available for comment on the decision. He inherited Zadina when taking over in 2019, the year after former general manager Ken Holland and his scouting staff were overjoyed when Zadina was still available to them at No. 6.
But five years after that draft decision in Dallas, Zadina has not lived up to his billing as an offensive juggernaut. He has 28 goals and 40 assists in 190 career games; his best outing came in 2021-22 when he posted 14 goals and 24 points in 74 games.
It is not for lack of opportunity: Zadina has played on the first line with Dylan Larkin, on power play units, and on the second lines dating back to former coach Jeff Blashill’s tenure. But Zadina (6 feet, 190 pounds) isn’t a physical player, and teams have denied him time and space to great success.
It is a disappointing outcome for a team trying to rebuild through the draft: Zadina adds to the list of former first-round picks who have not panned out. Forward Evgeny Svechnikov, drafted No. 19 in 2015, also went through waivers, and ended up just not being re-signed. Defenseman Dennis Cholowski, drafted No. 20 in 2016, was exposed in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft, and has failed to establish himself with any NHL team. Now Zadina looks like he is on his way out of Detroit, too.
Placing Zadina on waivers means a team can claim him without giving the Wings anything return. He is not a buyout candidate as it stands now.