Filip Zadina, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Position: Right Wing
Age on Draft Day: 18.6 Years Old
Height/Weight: 6’1, 192 pounds
2017-2018 Stats (Including Playoffs): 66 GP, 49 G, 45 A, 36 PIM, +25
NHL Central Scouting: 3rd (North American Skaters)
Bob McKenzie (TSN): 3rd
ISS Hockey: 3rd
Craig Button (TSN) (March): 4th
On an extremely talented and deep Halifax Mooseheads team in the QMJHL, Filip Zadina in particular stood out from the rest of the pack. When you think of players you want holding the puck and dictating in the offensive zone, it’s usually a center. Zadina is a winger, but he is one that you want running your team’s offense.
We already covered why Andrei Svechnikov is the top scorer in this year’s draft. Filip Zadina is the best shooter, and there is a difference. Zadina is able to pick the upper corners without sacrificing any velocity. What’s more, he has a clean, sudden release that is hard for goaltenders to pick up on. In particular, he’s very good at delaying the release and subtly changing the angle.
I reached out to Paul Campbell of InGoal Magazine for the goaltender’s perspective on what that delay does to a goaltender and why it’s difficult to deal with.
“First, it’s a sign that the guy has all the time in the world, which means he has a lot more options than a shooter facing pressure, so you have to play it more conservatively.”
There’s an implied annoyance with the theoretical defending in this situation; don’t afford the shooter the the opportunity to toy with the goaltender and make the timing of his release a big guessing game.
That’s easier said than done with a player like Zadina. He has a knack for finding the open areas of the ice and doesn’t need much room to get shots off. He is also very slippery and possesses incredible hands plus puck poise. When there isn’t time and space, he uses those tools and creates those opportunities for himself. His signature move, of sorts, is to get a defenseman to take the bait on his shot bluff and then cut towards the middle of the slot. Here are two great examples from this past QMJHL season of him creating his own shooting lanes.
“Your usual way of following a shooter in gets thrown off,” Campbell continued. “You have to be massively patient without getting locked into just blocking... Psychologically, all that extra time to think doesn’t help most goalies, either.”
Zadina’s poise and patience also results in some great assists. As he drags defenders and the goaltender with him, new lanes open all over the offensive zone. He’s an extremely creative passer of the puck and finds teammates one might not think he would have been able to spot.
To bring this back to a broader point, he’s dynamic on the puck, as evident in the video. Svechnikov overwhelms you physically with raw speed and strength. That’s not to say Zadina doesn’t have decent size and skating ability as well, but he is much more reliant on his hands to make plays and beat defenders. Often in the QMJHL, defenders would back off at the blue line out of fear of getting burned b Zadina. That may be the lesser of evils, but it nonetheless gives him a lot of room to make plays. Pick your poison.
Zadina is also impressive defensively. He is very comfortable as the lead forechecker and closes down on passing lanes very quickly using both positioning and stick placement. He works hard on the backcheck and does a pretty good of creating turnovers.
At the World Junior Championship he showed that he is not only a high-end offensive talent, but can also play as part of a five-man unit and fit into a refined defensive scheme. He finished tied for second in the tournament in goals, with seven in seven games and was an integral part of the Czech Republic’s surprising fourth-place finish. The season before, he was absolutely dominant at the U18 level as a 16-year-old. If there are any concerns about Zadina thriving against weak QMJHL defenses, then his international success more than makes up for it.
Though we have Zadina rated third on the list, there are justifications for taking him second overall. There are stylistic differences between him and Svechnikov, and if a team believes he fits into their philosophies better then so be it.
As far as his relevance to the Rangers, there is very little. There is no chance of him dropping to 9th overall. For him to even be in the conversation, the Rangers would first have to trade up to third, maybe fourth overall. Certainly not a possibility to unequivocally dismiss, but not one to hold one’s breath for, either.
What Others Have Said
“Zadina scores goals in a variety of ways. With a skill set like this, he has all the necessary tools to become a top NHL sniper.”
“I like what Zadina offers as a primary carrier on his line, and he can create as a passer and finisher.”
Links to Previous Rankings
1 - Rasmus Dahlin