Red Wings, former first-round pick Filip Zadina part ways as contract is terminated

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 no interest in doing.

Drafted 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.

Twitter: @tkulfan

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