There have been a few high NHL draft picks that have been put on waivers or have been traded away for little return in recent memory. Eeli Tolvanen, Vitali Kravstov, and now-released Filip Zadina are some examples of players who didn't work out with the team that drafted them.
Zadina, 23, and the Detroit Red Wings parted ways on July 6th with the termination of his contract, meaning that he agreed to let go of the $3.75 million coming his way for the next two seasons. He is betting on himself to earn a better deal for himself and resurrect his career, so should the NY Islanders take a flier on the former 6th overall pick?
Should the New York Islanders sign Filip Zadina?
Zadina may be betting on himself to earn a better contract moving forward, but that won't be with the first deal he signs after his contract termination. The Czech winger will likely receive a contract even lower than the $1.875 million cap hit he had last season to get back on his feet. That would be the only deal that works for the Isles, with their projected cap space at just under $400k. Moves are needed to be made to sign RFA Oliver Wahlstrom, and there is plenty of speculation that New York is in the running to acquire Alex DeBrincat via trade.
What would the Islanders get in Zadina by taking a chance on him? Well, his most recent season was certainly not his best, posting three goals and four assists in 30 games. His best season came in 2021-22, racking up 24 points in 74 games - the only season he cracked double-digit goals. He isn't the greatest defensively, but Detroit as a team struggled on the defensive end, so it's hard to blame him while he was in and out of the lineup.
Before being drafted, he was considered one of the best natural scorers in his class with a wicked one-timer. With the QMJHL's Halifax Mooseheads, Zadina scored 44 goals and 82 points in his draft-eligible season, showcasing his goal-scoring ability. In his first season in the minors, he scored 16 goals and 35 points for the Grand Rapids Griffins- solid numbers for AHL standards. Almost half of his goals with the Red Wings came on the power play utilizing said one-timer, which could be something that does interest the Isles, who had the second worst power-play in the league in 2022-23.
Looking at the situation realistically, it's probably not the best fit on Long Island for Zadina if he is trying to secure a more significant role on a team and put up numbers.
The Islanders' forward room is crowded and paid well, and he'd likely be in a similar position to what he dealt with in Detroit - either playing fourth-line minutes or being healthy scratched. Even spots with the fourth line aren't guaranteed, with the "Identity Line" possibly sticking around for at least one more year and recent depth signings Julien Gauthier and Karson Kuhlman in the mix.
The potential is there for the confident winger, but it's unlikely that his place to grow into an NHL regular is in New York.