Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman: ‘I really respect’ Filip Zadina for choosing fresh start

Detroit News

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman was drafted into the NHL some 40 years ago, and through all his time in the game, he’s never had a situation play out quite like it has for Filip Zadina over the last few weeks.

Sure, Yzerman said Monday, he’s had a player request for a contract to be terminated — but not often does that player walk with two years remaining at a $1.825 million AAV and the end goal of staying in the NHL.

“I haven’t done it very often, but we have terminated contracts, in that, players were looking to move on, whether to go back to Europe or tired of playing in the American Hockey League or whatnot, so we have had it — not so much on a contract similar to Filip’s,” Yzerman said.

“So, was I surprised? A little bit.”

Yzerman previously said Zadina requested a trade prior to the draft but no team was interested in giving up assets for him. Detroit put him on waivers, hoping another team would claim him for free — they did not. Thus, Zadina was placed on unconditional waivers last Thursday for the purpose of mutual contract termination, which officially took place Friday.

Zadina signed a one-year, $1.1 million deal with the San Jose Sharks Monday, shortly after Yzerman spoke to the media regarding the Alex DeBrincat trade and was asked about Zadina’s future. Despite the way it played out, Yzerman said he has no ill will toward the former No. 6-overall pick.

“I brought it up with Filip earlier in the summer, discussed it with his agent a little bit, and ultimately, if he wanted a fresh start, like — we’ve tried to trade, I’ve put him on waivers, couldn’t move him — this was the only way to get a fresh start,” Yzerman said.

“I really respect him for making this decision. Like, he’s not a dumb person. He knows what he’s giving up. But, his career is more important than the dollars and I wish him well, I really do. As I said last week, you asked me, ‘Is there any animosity?’ The player wants to play. I want him to play.

“There’s no guarantees in that, but Filip Zadina, my experience with him was always good. He’s a nice young man, he’s worked hard, it just hasn’t worked out. I wish him good luck somewhere else.”

Zadina signed a three-year extension last offseason worth $1.825 million annually. What many hoped would be a breakout season was riddled with injuries, as he was forced out of the lineup for more than two months because of a lower-body injury suffered in early November and would ultimately finish the season on the shelf. He had three goals and four assists in 30 games.

Because the contract was mutually terminated, Zadina’s full cap hit comes off the Red Wings’ books.

“Yeah, that’s a positive. I go back to it, when we signed Filip a year ago, the feeling was he’s going to get better and continue to play a bigger role. Mostly through injury this year, that didn’t happen. I’d rather have $1.8 million in cap space than potentially a player playing in the American Hockey League,” Yzerman said.

“Filip wanted a fresh start. He’s able to do that; good for him. And we’re able to put not only the cap space, but the actual dollars, into other things.”

Twitter: @nolanbianchi

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