Beware, Montreal and Ottawa: Filip Zadina has already put you on blast. The dynamic Czech sniper was crestfallen when he slipped out of the top five at the 2018 NHL draft, and though he was happy to be scooped up by Detroit sixth overall, he had a warning for the Habs and Sens, both of whom passed on him: “I told my agent if they pass on me, I’m going to fill their nets with pucks.”
It was the line of the night in Dallas, and since all three franchises reside in the Atlantic Division, Zadina has a chance to make his new rivals pay frequently. And based on Detroit’s depth chart, he’ll probably get the opportunity to do it as early as this coming season.
The Red Wings were an undisputed winner at the draft, grabbing Zadina and then lucking out again when Drummondville center Joe Veleno slipped to No. 30, allowing Detroit to pick him up with the first-rounder they acquired from Vegas in the Tomas Tatar trade. “Anything can happen at a draft, you just have to stay patient,” Veleno said. “I was nervous the whole way, but I was excited at the same time. Just to hear your name called is pretty special.”
Veleno probably should have been taken in the middle of the first round, but the Friday night of the draft is always a study in chaos. He likely heads back for another season of junior in the QMJHL. A playmaking center who can kill penalties, boost the power play and bring leadership, he upped his game after a trade from Saint John, the franchise with which he won a league title the year before. The Sea Dogs went into rebuilding mode after that, and Veleno seemed suppressed by the pressure of being one of the few remaining weapons on the team.
Detroit actually went into the first round targeting blueliners up top, but changed course when Zadina, a scoring Czech with a great release, became available. The Halifax Mooseheads’ left winger has already made a great impression on Detroit’s fans, dazzling with his stickhandling and shot at the Red Wings’ development camp. For a franchise lacking a lot of high-end skill right now, he’d be a welcome addition on a line with Dylan Larkin or Henrik Zetterberg next season. “I want to do every single step the right way,” Zadina said. “I will do anything for it and hopefully it happens.”
Though he didn’t expect to be a Red Wing, the charismatic kid is already excited for the future – and not just because of his potential linemates. “They have some pretty good ‘D,’ too, like Niklas Kronwall,” Zadina said. “I’ll have to be careful at my first practice.”
That is, if the veteran blueliner can catch Zadina.
This story appears in the August 20, 2018 issue of The Hockey News magazine.