The Detroit Red Wings on Sunday assigned a slew of 6 players to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins after the closure of their preseason. One of these players was no. 6 draft pick Filip Zadina, much to the surprise of many fans, and possibly Zadina himself.
Zadina had a great outing during the preseason, putting up 2 goals and an assist in 7 exhibition games with the Red Wings. So it was a bit of a shock when he was told he was being sent to the AHL and would start his professional career with the Griffins. Though surprising, Zadina understands that this is a time for him to grow as a player, and that his place on the Red Wings’ roster is now in his hands, for the most part.
“They talked to me like two days ago and told me I was going down and I was like OK,” Zadina said. “… I probably don’t know if I was expecting this, that they were going to send me down. They did that, they made a decision and now it’s up to me.”
While no one can argue that Zadina made an impact for Detroit in their 7-1-0 preseason, head coach Jeff Blashill wants to see him grow more confidence while playing with Grand Rapids, and learn to make more space for himself on the ice. He was also warned to not take the AHL lightly; it is still a professional league and he will need to bring his A-game every night.
“It’s a hard league, the American League, that’s one thing we cautioned him on, don’t think it’s going to be easy,” Blashill said. “But let’s go down and figure out how much space you have and gain that confidence. Let’s get adjusted to it and hopefully he fills it up down there and he’s demanding that he gets called back up.”
With the coach’s advice in mind and his tools in hand, it’s up to Zadina to put in the hard work with Grand Rapids, (and hope for a little luck that a roster spot opens), to be able to make his way back up with the Red Wings this season.
The Red Wings will open their season on Thursday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Little Caesars Arena.