The Detroit Red Wings selected Filip Zadina sixth overall in 2018. It seemed as if the Red Wings came away with a steal. After all, Zadina wasn't expected to fall that far.
He was considered the best pure goal scorer in the draft. Some had him as possibly the best overall player available. For him to be available at sixth overall was unexpected.
However, things haven't worked out. He has played parts of three seasons in the league, and while 2022 was a career year, it wasn't too impressive. He scored just 10 goals in 74 games.
Now, the team and player are at a crossroads. The 22-year-old is a restricted free agent. He is free to sign with any team, but Detroit has the right to match the offer.
If Detroit decides against matching the offer, the team will receive draft pick compensation in return. Which picks they receive are determined by the annual average value (AAV) of the contract.
Now, Zadina and the Wings have a choice to make. Do they continue on together, and see if they can work this out? Or is it time to cut their losses, and move on?
If the choice is the latter, here are the top three destinations for Zadina to potentially rediscover his game.
Filip Zadina: 3 best destinations in 2022 NHL offseason
1) Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning might be the most obvious fit for Zadina. The Lightning just hired former Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill as an assistant coach.
That could give the Lightning a bit of insight that other teams don't have. Blashill saw him up close and personal. There isn't a coach in the league that knows the player better.
The Lightning, however, would need to clear cap space to make this move work. Zadina likely won't command a huge investment either through trade or free agency, but the Lightning are $7 million over the salary cap.
Tampa lost Ondrej Palat to the New Jersey Devils early Thursday morning. This means the team could use some depth on the wings.
Zadina would be in the absolute best position to succeed in Tampa Bay. They have some of the best players in the world who would give him ample opportunity to put the puck in the back of the net. If the team can clear the necessary cap space, Tampa should be at the top of Zadina's options for a change in scenery.
The only team that may know more about the 22-year-old than the Lightning is the Oilers. Ken Holland, the general manager who drafted Zadina, currently GMs the Oilers.
Beyond that, the Oilers might be a natural fit given their current situation. They also have a winger in need of a change of scenery in Jesse Puljujarvi.
The two teams could make a trade involving both Zadina and Puljujarvi, killing two birds with one stone, as they say. The Oilers only have a little north of $1 million in cap space, however, so they may need to clear cap space to make signing Zadina possible.
Like the Lightning, the Oilers would provide Zadina ample opportunity to succeed. He'd have the opportunity to play with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the two best players in the world. These guys have helped Zach Hyman and Evander Kane break out as quality top-six players.
The move works out for both sides. It might represent a slight downgrade for the Oilers, but Zadina has a lot of room to grow and get better. In a few years, it could be an even move for all involved.
3) St. Louis Blues
The Blues and Red Wings are rather familiar with each other and their players on the transactional front. They have been since Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman took over in 2019.
It started with a one-for-one deal. The Wings acquired Robby Fabbri in exchange for Jacob de la Rose. It continued with the trade sending Nick Leddy to the Blues at the trade deadline.
Then, the two teams linked up again at last week's draft. The Red Wings acquired goalie Ville Husso from the Blues in exchange for a third-round pick.
The teams essentially swapped goaltenders when the Blues signed Thomas Greiss on Wednesday. Detroit countered by signing long-time Blue David Perron to a two-year deal.
The Blues seem to like dealing with the Red Wings, so they may have an eye on the 22-year-old winger. The loss of Perron leaves room to add a winger for St. Louis.
The potential trade of Vladimir Tarasenko creates even more room to add Zadina. He would likely receive quality ice time with the Blues, which could allow him to find his footing and grow his game.
If the 22-year-old wants a change of scenery, there are definitely worse options than the Blues.