Red Wings Weekly Review: No, Filip Zadina is Not a “Miss”

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - APRIL 15: Filip Zadina #11 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Chicago Blackhawks at Little Caesars Arena on April 15, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - APRIL 15: Filip Zadina #11 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Chicago Blackhawks at Little Caesars Arena on April 15, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn wrote his preview of the Detroit Red Wings and well, let’s just say it didn’t go over well with a lot of Red Wings fans. I am a huge fan of Luszczyszyn’s work, but yes, even I must say–I felt this piece missed some contextual points about certain players–Filip Zadina being one of them.

It’s not that calling the Red Wings a bottom five team or one that is a mile away from making the playoffs is off. I don’t disagree with that at all. Hell, I’m beginning to wonder if the Red Wings glory years will include Dylan Larkin or Tyler Bertuzzi at this point.

But the belief that Zadina might be a miss this early in his career seems a reach.

Zadina Will Come into his own for the Red Wings

I wrote about this during my recap of the Red and White game, and it’s worth repeating: Zadina appears perpetually frustrated in the puck luck he’s not getting. While it’s understandable, the young prospect needs to grip the stick a little less and know that those goals will come as the talent around him only gets better.

Zadina has played on two very poor Red Wings teams, and at times during that play, he wasn’t getting ample time with more talented players that could provide ample scoring opportunities. In turn, we’ve seen Zadina turn into a more complete player, not only playing 200 foot hockey, but also demonstrating some great hands when it comes to setting up goals and offensive opportunities.

In Luszczyszyn’s piece, he writes this:

"Zadina is 21 now and his first “full” season left a lot to be desired. After two auditions where he didn’t seem to understand the assignment at five-on-five, Zadina continued to struggle mightily last season. He put up a 42 percent expected goals rate, which was the second worst on the team ahead of only Luke Glendening. That’s on a very bad Red Wings team and it’s not like he was scoring much either as he only put up 1.2 points per 60 at five-on-five."

To put all of this into context, I offer that Luszczyszyn doesn’t sit and watch every Red Wings game nor is he analyzing from a hybrid approach. He’s looking at this from a very quantitative point of view so while it sounds harsh, I believe it’s coming from a place that is narrowing the sample size to his models that are driven by quant.

But it was this comment that I disagreed with and am specifically writing about:

"What separates rebuilds that work with the ones that don’t is not only the shiny superstar or two that the Red Wings don’t have yet, it’s also actually hitting on first-round picks. With Zadina and Rasmussen likely being misses relatively speaking, the rebuild got off to a pretty rocky start. That makes the future core look a bit fuzzy."

It bears repeating, I am a huge fan of his work, and believe that this wasn’t a hit piece in the slightest. I feel it was just missing some other analysis that many have written or spoken of.

I’ve worked in fields and currently work in one that integrates a lot of data into performance. But it’s not the end-all-be-all, it just can’t be. It’s absolutely important to use that data and to use it as a consideration of the entire picture–which is exactly the point I’m making: There’s an entire picture to be considered.

Zadina was saddled by some curious line assignments and also missed two weeks in Covid Protocol. By the end of the season, the Red Wings lineup was decimated by injury and Zadina, as were the majority of Red Wings forwards, was essentially being asked to sacrifice scoring for a defensive system that erred on the side of caution to keep the team competitive.

There is also a mental component, and it felt like that hamstrung both Zadina and Mattias Brome, who just couldn’t seem to get any sort of luck when it came to the puck. The mental part of the game is a real thing–hell–I can remember Brendan Shanahan lamenting the lack of puck luck he received during playoff runs that resulted in Stanley Cups. Shanahan at times would be snakebitten when it came to getting the goals he was expected to score.

Now, should it be used as an excuse. Absolutely not. At some point, players have to step up and perform–just like every other walk of life that have expectations. But there is something to be said for looking at the entire picture–something we all struggle with at times.

I’ll stand by my thoughts that Zadina breaks through this season. If not, I’ll gladly be wrong.

Jakub Vrana to see a Specialist Monday

Yeah, we didn’t want to see this. No sooner had Vrana arrived to camp did he exit it with an injury. Described as an upper body (but apparently the shoulder), the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James asked about it and received this response (video is teed up):

Based on that response, it doesn’t sound good. And beyond that, the intrigue just ratchets up for who would take Vrana’s place if he’s out for a period of time.

Here’s hoping it’s not

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