Prospects News & Rumors: Zadina, Lantosi, WHL & Zary

The Detroit Red Wings are allowing another one of their top young players to stay in Europe until NHL camps open. The Boston Bruins have signed one of their better American Hockey League (AHL) players to an NHL deal. Plus, the Western Hockey League (WHL) reveals its plan for the start of the 2020-21 season.

Zadina Staying Overseas

The Red Wings have plenty of prized prospects in their system and the players from Europe will be staying closer to home to start the 2020-21 season. Earlier this week, we learned defenseman Moritz Seider was loaned to Alder Mannheim in Germany until the NHL training camp opens late in the fall.

Filip Zadina is another player who will stay in his native country to get some playing time. He will be loaned HC Ocelari Trinec in the Czech Extraliga, the top tier of Czech professional hockey. Zadina’s father is an assistant coach with the team, whose season is scheduled to start on Oct. 7, 2020.

Zadina was taken with the sixth overall pick of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. The 2019-20 season was his second in North America. He split it between the Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL. He played in 28 NHL games, scoring eight goals and 15 points.

His season came to an end on Jan. 31 when he broke his ankle in a game against the New York Rangers. He was nearing a return to action when the season was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Filip Zadina Detroit Red Wings
Zadina’s season came to an early end.
(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“I was actually ready to come back and play but the staff, they kind of canceled my plans,” Zadina said recently on The Red and White Authority podcast. “I’m probably, I would say, kind of sad about it because I was ready to go in order to get back on with the boys but it happened what happened. So maybe next year. I hope so.”

Both Seider and Zadina are expected to join the Red Wings once their training camp opens, which is expected to be in early December.

Lantosi Inks NHL Deal

Robert Lantosi’s path to the NHL has been a bit unconventional, but he finally signed his first contract in the league. The Boston Bruins announced on Friday that they have signed Lantosi to a one-year, two-way, entry-level contract, worth $750,000, for the upcoming 2020-21 season.

The 24-year-old forward signed as a free agent with the Providence Bruins last season. He appeared in 50 AHL games, scoring 11 goals and 31 points. Prior to coming to North America, Lantosi spent the 2018-19 season with HK Nitra in Slovakia’s top professional league. He scored 20 goals and 58 points in 56 regular-season games. He added another three goals and 10 points in 18 playoff games.

WHL Sets Return to Play Date

The Canadian Hockey League’s (CHL) 2020-21 season is starting to take shape. Earlier this week, the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) announced Dec. 1, 2020, as their target date to start the upcoming season.

The WHL revealed that their season is now scheduled to begin on Dec. 4, 2020. Of course, they are continuing to work with local health and government officials to ensure this can happen safely.

“Regardless of our start date, the WHL is committed to playing a full Regular Season and Playoffs in 2020-21,” WHL Commissioner Ron Robison said in an official statement. “In our discussions with the government and health authorities, it has become apparent that additional time is required to ensure we can return to play in a safe and responsible manner. Our WHL health and safety protocols have been well received by the health authorities but we have several key issues that we will need to reach a resolution on in the coming months.”

A full season would be 68 games if they can pull it off. The only CHL league that hasn’t made an announcement yet is the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). Reports say they are hoping to start their full season in October like originally scheduled.

Prospect of the Day – Connor Zary

We will stay in the WHL for our Prospect of the Day. Zary scored 38 goals and 86 points in 57 games for the Kamloops Blazers this past season. He set a new career-high in goals, assists and points before the season was canceled.

Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide

Heading into the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, Zary is ranked as the 15th skater among all North American players by NHL Central Scouting. In his final rankings, THW’s Josh Bell has Zary ranked 17th overall.

Zary has turned the heads of scouts with his offensive instincts, high hockey IQ and a very strong work ethic. He can beat you in many ways like setting up his teammates with an accurate pass or driving hard to the net to put home a rebound. He brings a sound defensive game to go along with his scoring and playmaking abilities, making him one of the more well-rounded players of this draft class.

Connor Zary Kamloops Blazers
Zary should hear his name in the first round.
(Allen Douglas)

Our own Dayton Reimer compares Zary to a couple of very good NHL centers:

It’s unlikely Zary becomes a star in the NHL, despite having led the WHL in scoring at times during this season. Still, he has all the tools to succeed in the NHL and projects to be a reliable first-line center on the right team or a very good second-line center and could be that one missing piece a team needs to make a long playoff run.

Look at Jordan Staal’s tenure with the Pittsburgh Penguins, or Horvat’s current role with the Vancouver Canucks. Neither are the brightest stars on the team but put them into a position to win every night by doing their jobs incredibly well. I see Zary filling that role in the NHL.

Zary is not going to be a flashy goal scorer that most fans want to see with their first-round pick. He will be a rather safe pick for whatever general manager decides to take him, likely in the second half of the opening round. His two-way game is solid and he could slot in anywhere on a team’s top three lines. He might be the most exciting option for your team, but he can be a very good player for a long time at the pro level.