With the Canadiens moving up to the third overall selection in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, Marc Bergevin has the opportunity to add a franchise player. Ranked third by NHL Central Scouting (North American skaters) Filip Zadina slots in just behind Brady Tkachuk and Andrei Svechnikov. That said, Zadina is far from being a consolation prize.
CSB: No. 3 (NA Skaters)| ISS: No. 3 | HP: No. 3 | FC: No. 3 | McKeen’s: No. 3
Zadina was originally drafted fourth overall by the Vancouver Giants in the 2016 CHL Import Draft. Instead of coming to North America, he chose to remain in his native Czech Republic to play another season in his hometown HC Dynamo Pardubice system. In 2017, Cam Russell and the Halifax Mooseheads used their import draft selection on Zadina, then set to work using former European imports and Czech billet families to recruit him. That work paid off not just for Halifax but also for Zadina.
Zadina arrived in Halifax wanting to do whatever it took to win and be a team player. His talent and skill was showcased from the moment he began his first preseason shift. He is a dynamic right-winger who plays a possession game, using his frame to create separation.
“There are no deficiencies in his game and [Zadina] is loaded with character.”
Sportsnet analyst Sam Cosentino described him this way, “[Zadina] transitioned well to the North American game with an intense will to get into the home-plate area. There are no deficiencies in his game and he’s loaded with character. Zadina may not exactly be Nico Hischier, but he’s not too far behind.”
After his electrifying performance at the 2018 World Junior Championship, Zadina rushed back to meet with his Mooseheads in Saint John. The team decided he was to rest after the tournament despite his desire to play. Zadina proceed to help the equipment manager load and unload the bus demonstrating his desire to be a team player.
Filip Zadina showed up in Saint John today and badly wanted to play but the Mooseheads practically had to force him to take a break. He felt like he should chip in so he helped load and unload the bus. Team player.
— Willy Palov (@WillyPalov) January 7, 2018
Zadina has few flaws in his game, but in my opinion, skating is a work in progress. His top end speed is adequate but not explosive meaning his game relies more on his lateral mobility and excellent edgework to beat the opposition.
While he is not a power forward, he is adept at using his size and mobility to cut into the dirty areas of the ice creating openings for himself and his teammates. Zadina displays an excellent work ethic. He uses his frame in the cycle winning board battles and retaining possession.
Once he is in the offensive zone, his game shines. Zadina has a heavy, accurate NHL calibre shot that he can release from anywhere. His one-timer is a weapon of choice, but he is equally adept at threading passes in the offensive zone. He is also consistently pushing the pace of the game generating numerous shot opportunities.
As a possession player, Zadina plays a style similar to former Mooseheads stars Nikolaj Ehlers and Nico Hischier. Zadina can be guilty of holding on to the puck too long. He will need to refine his game at the NHL level.
Zadina is highly responsible in all three zones. He uses his speed to provide back pressure, and good positioning in the defensive zone to pressure attackers and cut off passing lanes. He is also very effective at retrieving pucks.
Where will Filip Zadina go in June's NHL Entry Draft?
— Halifax Mooseheads (@HFXMooseheads) April 30, 2018
His mature defensive game and team first attitude also allowed the former Mooseheads head coach Jim Midgley to be able to trust Zadina in any situation. Zadina logged heavy ice time, including the penalty kill, where he became a threat to score short-handed.
If Bergevin drafts Filip Zadina with the third overall pick, the selection will pay immediate dividends. Zadina is an NHL-ready prospect who can be an impact player in his rookie season. Zadina projects as a complete top line winger, leaving little doubt that he would help a Montreal team desperate for offence.