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2018 NHL Draft prospect profile: Filip Zadina is a sniper who can create his own chances

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Zadina looks to be the next great player to come out of the Halifax Mooseheads organization

Canada v Czech Republic: Semifinals - 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

Filip Zadina was always among the prospects to watch for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, but his performance at the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championship solidified his status.

Zadina had seven goals in seven games for the Czech Republic in his first tournament appearance, and showed the type of skills that have him so sought after as a prospect. He also added an assist as the Czech top line of Martin Necas, Zadina and fellow draft eligible player Martin Kaut led the team to fourth place in Buffalo.

Place of Birth: Pardubice, Czech Republic
Shoots: Left
Position: Left Wing/Right Wing
Height: 6’1" Weight: 192 lbs

EliteProspects.com

Zadina had a great first season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, scoring 44 goals and adding 38 assists for 82 points in 57 games. He finished well ahead of any other draft eligible player in the league in both points and primary points, especially when taking into account his points per game.

He had 0.82 primary points per game at even strength this season. The only first-year draft eligible player within 0.40 of that mark in the QMJHL was Zadina’s teammate Benoit-Olivier Groulx (at 0.44). The next player was Joe Veleno at 0.42.

All of this adds to the theory that Zadina is more than just a sniper. He simply creates his own chances. He can create zone entries, he can create his own open space, and is a lot more than just a player who finds space and gets his shot off. Zadina can still snipe, and he enjoys shooting the puck. He averaged over four shots per game this season.

The breakout style of the Quebec league fits with his style very well as he thrives when he’s able to skate the puck into the offensive zone.

His ability to create also allows for him to create opportunities for his teammates.

There’s one aspect in Zadina’s toolkit that separates him from others and it is his ability to protect the puck. He routinely switches to one hand on his stick when he has possession to put as much of his body in front of the puck, using his other arm and knees to shield the puck from what are sometimes multiple opponents. With his shifty stickhandling and strong balance, he seems almost immune to takeaways when he is at the top of his game.

Zadina complements this ability with an almost instinctive usage of deception, opening up his hips, going 10-and-two with his skates to fool opponents into thinking he is going in one direction, before exploding in the other. He can also use head fakes just as well to attract defenders onto him before passing to open teammates, creating lanes to the net for them.

Zadina was able to play in the senior Czech league before coming over to the QMJHL. He played 25 games in 2016-17 scoring one goal and one assist, and being able to play against men at such an age is usually a good thing for a player’s development, and it paved the way for a great year in the CHL.

He faces some questions about his defensive game, but has been tasked to kill penalties at all levels, including as a rookie in the QMJHL. He led all first-year draft eligible players in shorthanded goals (3) and points (4), tied with Veleno this season.

Scouting

Hockey Prospect:

Zadina is a dynamic sniper who was utilized in all situations for the Czech’s. The talented winger has a rare combination of skill and a high-octane motor. He used both consistently throughout the WJC to make a difference for his team [...] His bread and butter is his shot, generating velocity both while in motion and in a standing position.

The Athletic (Corey Pronman):

On a tools level, he’s one of the most dynamic players in the draft. Zadina skates very well and has great, if not elite, hands; and that combination allows him to be quite elusive. Zadina loves to use his skill to create space, cut into the slot and wire chances on net. His off the puck play isn’t perfect, but I’ve seen him be a competent penalty killer and a shorthanded threat. He is a highly competitive player who gets high marks for his character. He’s the complete package offensively and a potential difference-maker on any given shift.

Rankings (note: these are not all final rankings):

HockeyProspect: 3
ISS: 3
Future Considerations: 3
McKeen’s: 3
NHL Central Scouting (North American Skaters): 3*
The Athletic (Scott Wheeler): 3
The Athletic (Corey Pronman): 2

*= final ranking

Thoughts

Zadina’s future, and chances to be a Montreal Canadien, will rely on the results of the NHL Draft Lottery. It is a top-heavy draft, with not much separating the top five players. If Rasmus Dahlin is at the top, then the next level of Andrei Svechnikov, Zadina, Brady Tkachuk and Oliver Wahlstrom is pretty tight — not to mention the other defencemen in the mix.

The Czech forward compares favourably to his counterparts, and it would be surprising if he drops out of the top three. However a team picking outside of top spot looking for defence could push the forwards down.

He may be slightly behind Svechnikov in the pecking order, but he could be quite the consolation prize for the team that finishes third in the lottery.

Whether he would be able to contribute immediately in the NHL would depend on what team drafts him, and what openings there are. Like many top draft picks, it would be surprising if he didn’t at least get a few games at the NHL level, even if he does return to junior.

All statistics courtesy Prospect-Stats.com