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Red Wings sign final restricted free agent ahead of 2022 NHL season

Red Wings, Filip Zadina

The Detroit Red Wings have made a ton of moves this off-season. And on Friday, they checked off the last item on their to-do list.

The Red Wings and forward Filip Zadina agreed to a three-year contract, the team announced. The deal is worth an average annual value of $1.825 million.

The Red Wings selected the 22-year-old forward sixth overall in 2018. Many saw Zadina as a future top-line sniper, but things have not gone quite to plan so far. There were even rumors of a change of scenery for the Czechian forward this offseason.

Zadina made his NHL debut in 2018-19, but seemed to shine during the COVID-shortened 2019-20 season. The 22-year-old recorded 15 points in 28 games during that span.

However, Zadina has since slipped a bit. He recorded just 19 points in 49 games during the 2020-21 campaign. And this past season, he recorded just 24 points in 74 games.

The Red Wings certainly expected more from their young forward. However, they clearly haven’t lost their faith in him. And there are a few reasons why that is the case.

Firstly, Zadina is just 22 years old. The Red Wings forward has a lot of time to develop into a more prominent player. Even if he never becomes a top-line difference maker, he can still become a reliable NHL regular.

Secondly, the Red Wings have a new head coach behind the bench. Derek Lalonde was hired by the team from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Lalonde comes in from a hockey team that has been the NHL’s model for success the last few seasons. He’s shown the ability to get the best out of his players, albeit as an assistant coach.

Zadina has had a chip on his shoulder since Detroit drafted him. Just take a look at his comments following the selection.

“I was telling my agent, if they will pass on me, I’m going to fill their nets with pucks,” Zadina said, via Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. “I want to prove to Detroit that they make a pretty good decision.”

The Red Wings hope Lalonde will be able to unlock the confidence the young winger once had.