Red Wings: Examining Filip Zadina’s start to the 2021-22 season

Fan expectations for Filip Zadina have been pretty high since he slipped to the Detroit Red Wings in the 2018 NHL Draft. Zadina has yet to have a breakout season – could 2021 be the year?

“Snakebitten” was the word used to describe Zadina last season. Even the best of scoring chances seemed to miss by just a few inches; he was close but not quite there. Despite a great shot coming out of the draft, Zadina has only finished with a shooting percentage above ten percent once (2019-20, 13.3 percent). Twenty games into the NHL season, he has a shooting percentage of 7.3 percent – not terrible, but a little disappointing considering expectations.

Last year, many fans took notice of the smaller improvements in Zadina’s game. While he didn’t show up consistently on the scoresheet, he took steps in other aspects of his game – namely, his abilities as a two-way forward. Whether it be defensive steals or maintaining possession in the offensive zone, Zadina was making an impact on the game. Unfortunately, the stats just did not reflect that. He finished with an expected goals above replacement of -6.2 and a -1.1 expected wings above replacement. Zadina’s Corsi-for and Fenwick-for percentages were both below 50 percent.

But this season, the stats are starting to reflect that improved play. His current expected goals above replacement is 1.1 and his expected wins above replacement is 0.2. Not great, but certainly an improvement. The Corsi-for and Fenwick-for percentages are both above 50 percent as well.

However, the points are still not really coming. Through twenty games, Zadina has three goals and four assists. Again, not bad, but the expectations are starting to weight heavy.

A breakout season is still very possible for Zadina, but it’s not just dependent on the young Czech putting pucks in the net. Zadina needs to start developing more chemistry with his line mates. In the preseason, Robby Fabbri, Pius Suter and Zadina seemed to be clicking, providing the double-edged sword of good defense and a dangerous offense.

In the regular season, it has been a different story. The line hasn’t been terrible, but it is far from a consistent contributor. For Zadina to meet or exceed expectations this year, his line needs to improve as a whole. If the three forwards can start to find that chemistry that they developed in the preseason (and have shown in flashes throughout the year), the points are going to start coming for Zadina.