Filip Zadina, Philadelphia Flyers May Need Each Other

Filip Zadina celebrates his goal against the Winnipeg Jets. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Filip Zadina celebrates his goal against the Winnipeg Jets. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Filip Zadina, the sixth overall pick in 2018, mutually agreed with the Detroit Red Wings to have his contract terminated on Thursday. The Philadelphia Flyers could do worse than taking a chance on the 23 year old winger. 

The Detroit Red Wings will forever regret drafting Filip Zadina and telling Quinn Hughes that he would not be selected by them. Five years later, Hughes is one of the very best defensemen in the NHL, whilst Zadina is now a free agent.

Filip Zadina would have been heading into the second season of a three-year, $5.475 million contract with the Detroit Red Wings had he stayed with the team. Seeking a fresh start, GM Steve Yzerman tried and failed to facilitate a trade for Filip Zadina, and by agreeing to terminate his contract, Zadina is leaving $4.56 million on the table.

Filip Zadina would have only had a cap hit of $1.825 million for the next two years, so it is a bit bizarre to see that none of the 31 other teams in the NHL offered anything at all in exchange for Zadina. Wherever he goes next, the Czech winger is surely aware that it will be his last opportunity to earn a place in the NHL.

Truthfully, Filip Zadina hasn’t been all that bad in the NHL, but consistency is the name of the game. Across five seasons in the NHL, Zadina has only appeared in more than 50 games once. In the 2021-22 season, Zadina posted 10 goals and 14 assists in 74 games. These are respectable numbers for a fourth liner, but Zadina is paid more than most of those, and doesn’t play an as mature game defensively as other fourth liners would.

Across 190 total NHL games, Filip Zadina has 28 goals and 68 points in 190 games. Over the pace of an 82-game season, Zadina averages roughly 12 goals and 17 assists. 2019-20 and 2020-21 was the most productive stretch of the embattled sniper’s career, where he scored 34 points across 77 games. Then, Zadina saw his average ice time drop two minutes from 16:48 to 14:11 in 2021-22, and dropped another minute to 13:06 in 2022-23. This season, Zadina played just 24 minutes on the power play, and would walk into a Flyers team that finished rock-bottom in that category.

As it stands, the Philadelphia Flyers can financially afford to give Filip Zadina another shot at the NHL, but it may have to come on a two-way contract that allows him to go to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the AHL. The Flyers have too many right-shot right wings, and too few left-shot left wings. This is creating a massive and unnecessary logjam within the forward group. Prospects like Tyson Foerster and Bobby Brink will have to compete with Owen Tippett, Travis Konecny, Wade Allison, and Garnet Hathaway for ice time on the right side. This is without including another righty in Cam Atkinson, who is slated to return from his neck surgery in 2023.

As a result, some of these players, like Atkinson, will either have to play on the left on their off-hand side, or play in the AHL again. Filip Zadina, on the other hand, can provide a different option for the Flyers on the left, although he has typically played as an inverted right wing. It may not make a lot of sense for the Flyers to move Cam Atkinson around, or flip flop other players to accommodate Zadina. In Atkinson’s case, he hasn’t played a full NHL game since April 9, 2022. It’s unclear how good he’ll be, if at all, at the age of 34.

With the appropriate ice time though, the move for Zadina becomes low-risk, high-reward. In Filip Zadina’s career, the Detroit Red Wings have never had a better Corsi percentage with Zadina off the ice versus with Zadina on the ice. Zadina has had a relative Corsi percentage of five percent or greater in three of his last four seasons.

Whatever happens, there is still an NHL player in Filip Zadina, but it’s up to him as well as the Philadelphia Flyers or another NHL team to unlock that. Zadina only scored three goals in the 2022-23 season, but two of them were game-winners. He’s excellent in possession, and his production has dipped in direct correlation to his reduced ice time. For a team in need of high-end talent in the midst of a rebuild, taking a chance on Filip Zadina is a no-brainer for the Flyers.

Broad Street Buzz
Broad Street Buzz /

Want your voice heard? Join the Broad Street Buzz team!

Write for us!