The Red Wings have taken care of their last remaining restricted free agent, signing winger Filip Zadina to a three-year contract. Per the team announcement, the contract carries a $1.825M cap hit. Zadina will be a restricted free agent once again when the deal expires.

Apr 5, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Red Wings right wing Filip Zadina (11) celebrates his goal in the second period against the Boston Bruins at Little Caesars Arena.

The narrative around Zadina’s career thus far has largely been centered around how he’s failed to live up to the lofty expectations that were placed on him as a prospect. Drafted sixth overall at the 2018 draft, many outlets had Zadina ranked even higher, with quite a few considering him the best prospect outside of the clearly-defined top two players, Rasmus Dahlin and Andrei Svechnikov.


Zadina was coming off of a monster draft year in the QMJHL, a season where he torched junior defenses to the tune of 44 goals and 82 points in 57 games. After he was drafted, the Red Wings made the somewhat unconventional choice to send him to their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids rather than send him for another year of junior hockey. At the AHL level, Zadina impressed, scoring 16 goals and 35 points in 59 games.


Zadina scored well at the AHL level the next season, with 16 points in 21 games, but at the NHL level offensive success has eluded him. The talent is there with Zadina, he has a good shot, and he can generate some scoring chances from the wing. But the consistency NHL coaches expect on a night-to-night basis has been missing. While Zadina’s defensive issues would not be cause for issue at lower levels, at the NHL level his inability to round out his two-way game has cost him opportunities to play higher in the lineup and with more talented linemates.


If Zadina can learn to rely less on a perimeter-style offensive game and improve his two-way hockey, he can quickly make this three-year contract extension look very wise on the part of Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman. But the quality of play he’s put forth so far in the NHL has been so underwhelming that there’s a legitimate chance that he does not finish this contract in Detroit.


The Red Wings have made significant additions this offseason with the idea of moving back into the hunt for a playoff spot. With Jakub Vrana finally healthy, David Perron and Dominik Kubalik now in the fold, and a new coach to prove himself to, it’s possible that Zadina will need to play better than he ever has before in order to get prime offensive opportunities in this new-look Red Wings squad. If nothing else, his leash will likely be shorter than it has ever been before in his NHL career.


This contract gives Zadina some runway to determine who he wants to be in the NHL. Does he want to take full advantage of his tools and become an impact scorer, or does he want to remain mired in the issues that have plagued him so far as an NHLer?


That’s a question only Zadina can decide, and with this contract, he’ll now have the opportunity to answer it.