Red Wings, Filip Zadina part ways. Could door open for Alex DeBrincat trade?

Detroit News

Detroit — Filip Zadina and the Red Wings are officially parting ways.

The Wings put Zadina on unconditional waivers Thursday for purposes of mutual contract termination.

The move erases the annual average value (salary cap hit) of $1.825 million for the next two years on Zadina’s contract, as well as the $4.56 million in actual money that is owed to Zadina.

It’s a huge gamble for Zadina, 23, who is forgoing that money in return for a clean slate and new opportunity somewhere else. Any team can now sign Zadina for an amount less than what was owed to him.

General manager Steve Yzerman said Tuesday that Zadina had requested a trade before the NHL Entry Draft, looking for a new start, but no other team expressed interest in acquiring Zadina.

No team then claimed Zadina off waivers earlier this week, when the Wings exposed him in hopes of another team taking Zadina.

If Zadina had reported to the Wings in training camp and not made the opening-night roster, he would have been sent to minor-league affiliate Grand Rapids — which Zadina had no interest in doing.

Selected sixth overall in the 2018 draft, Zadina was viewed as the pure, prolific goal-scorer the Wings had long been searching for.

Instead, Zadina struggled to gain any traction in the Wings’ lineup and never consistently showed the volume goal-scoring he had produced in junior hockey.

Zadina had 28 goals and 40 assists in 190 games with the Wings. Injuries held Zadina back at various times, including last season. Zadina suffered a broken foot and was limited to 30 games, with three goals and four assists.

Zadina’s best season was scoring 10 goals in 74 games during the 2021-22 season.

Yzerman said Tuesday he saw improvement in Zadina this past season and thought Zadina could still become an effective NHL player.

“I don’t write his career off by any means,” Yzerman said. “He made significant steps (last season). It’s been a challenge for him; he’s had some injuries playing in Detroit. He’s got upside. He still can become a valuable player in the NHL.

“I still think there’s something there as a player. We’ll see where it goes. There’s not much more I can do at this stage to help him. He’s got to go out and earn it.”

It’ll be interesting to see how the Wings use the extra $1.825 million in their cap space.

The Wings now have nearly $9.9 million of cap space left, and could turn their attention even more vigorously toward Ottawa forward Alex DeBrincat, a Farmington Hills native who has asked for a trade.

DeBrincat, 25, had 27 goals and 66 points with the Senators last season, but has twice scored 41 goals in his career while in Chicago.

DeBrincat is a restricted free agent, and the Senators have filed for arbitration. Ottawa has filed for a 15% reduction, or $7.65 million, from the $9 million DeBrincat is seeking.

DeBrincat is reportedly seeking a lengthy seven- or eight-year contract, somewhere between $8 to $9 million annually.

Yzerman has often stated his reluctance to have many contracts of that term and cost.

Reunited tandem

Goaltender Sebastian Cossa was excited to hear his coach in Toledo, Dan Watson, was promoted to head coach with the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Wings’ primary minor-league affiliate.

Cossa enjoyed playing for Watson with the Walleye, a Wings’ secondary affiliate.

“Pretty cool,” Cossa said of his reaction to Watson going to Grand Rapids. “I liked him a lot as a coach, and person as well. I’m excited for him. He’s definitely earned it. I’m looking forward to hopefully being there with him next year.

“He’s definitely a players’ coach. Really personable. Everyone there is willing to run a through wall for him. The guys like him a lot. Halfway through the season and the playoffs, we had one of the best penalty kills and power plays in the league.”

Cossa, in his first pro season, had an impressive second half and playoffs for Toledo, as the Walleye reached the conference finals.

It’s expected Cossa will be promoted to Grand Rapids next season.

“Hopefully, yes,” Cossa said of joining the Griffins. “If I put the work in and show what I can do, hopefully I’m there.”

Cossa, 20, a Wings’ 2021 first-round draft pick (15th overall), made specific strides this past season.

“Skating, playing through the traffic,” Cossa said. “For sure guys were bigger at the pro level and I had to use the body a little bit better. Definitely the second half of the season, I felt more comfortable and confident.”

Twitter: @tkulfan

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