Filip Zadina asked Detroit Red Wings to trade him. They couldn’t, but waived him instead

Detroit Free Press

Filip Zadina ultimately ended up on waivers as part of his request for a new opportunity.

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman elaborated on his decision Monday to place the former first-round pick on waivers, which means another team can claim him by noon Tuesday without compensating the Wings.

“Unfortunately Filip last year, he missed a lot of time due to injury,” Yzerman said. “I thought in the 30-ish games he played, I’ve seen growth in his game.

“A couple weeks prior to the draft, through his agent, he had asked if he could potentially go someplace else, looking for more opportunity, a fresh start.”

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Not finding any takers in a trade, Yzerman opted to try waivers.

“I’ve tried to find a place for him to play, somebody who is interested in FIlip and would maybe give him that opportunity,” Yzerman said. “I haven’t been able to do that. In putting him on waivers, I’m trying to give him an opportunity to go somewhere to an organization if he wants to play more. We’ll see if that happens.”

There was much excitement within the previous administration when Zadina was available at No. 6 in 2018, but five years later, the 23-year-old has 28 goals and 40 assists in 190 career games; his best campaign came in 2021-22 when he posted 10 goals and 14 assists in 74 games.

Zadina could be the third recent first-round pick to wash out of the Wings’ organization. Forward Evgeny Svechnikov, drafted No. 19 in 2015, also went through waivers, and ended up just not being re-signed. (Svechnikov has since put up 15 goals and 18 assists in 131 games over two seasons with San Jose and Winnipeg.) Defenseman Dennis Cholowski, drafted No. 20 in 2016, was exposed in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft in the summer of 2021 and has failed to establish himself with any NHL team. Although every team whiffs in the draft, it has been a significant setback for the Wings in their rebuild to see one after another first-round pick disappoint.

“Theoretically, or statistically, the higher players are picked, the more likelihood you are going to get an impact player,” Yzerman said. “There’s no guarantees. The first pick overall, you’re getting a pretty good player, sometimes a superstar. With each pick, the numbers decrease a little bit. When you get into the late first round, the reality is —there’s not a lot of certainty to it.

“I’m not completely shocked, because it happens all around the league. And that’s just the reality of having the draft at such an early age. Filip was picked at sixth. I don’t write his career off by any means.”

Zadina had a good camp last year but the Wings were so deep when the season began that he was a healthy scratch the first two games. Then injuries limited him to 30 games.

“I thought he made significant steps,” Yzerman said. Although it was Ken Holland who drafted Zadina, it was Yzerman who last summer signed Zadina for $5.475 million over three years. “It’s been a challenge for him. He’s had some injuries.

“I think he’s got upside. I think he still can become a valuable player in the NHL. Last year, he was really held back, it was due to injury. It happens. I still think there is something as a player. But, when you have high picks, boy, you miss on them, it can hurt. But it happens. A lot.”

If Zadina clears waivers, he can come to camp in the fall and “earn a spot on the team,” Yzerman said. “There’s not much more I can do at this stage to help him. He’s got to go out there and earn it.”

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames.

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Her latest book, “On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft,” is available from  AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

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