Marek Zidlicky’s time as a member of the Detroit Red Wings reads as a tale of two different players. In his first 10 games with the team, the veteran defender collected eight points. He was only able to chip in with three points in his next 11 games, and went pointless through six playoff games versus the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Heading into the trade deadline, Ken Holland wanted to add some firepower to the power play. Zidlicky provided that – eight of his 11 points came with the man advantage. He is a clear upgrade over Danny DeKeyser on the power play. Even without his point totals, it is apparent that Zidlicky’s ability to move the puck and his booming shot are superior to DeKeyser’s. While I assumed his stay in Detroit would be a short one, Holland had the following to say about retaining the 38-year-old native of the Czech Republic:
“There’s no doubt certainly it’s a possibility,” Holland said Tuesday from the general managers’ meetings. “Now the player has to weigh in. […] That’s what we were looking for last summer, a right shot that could play the power play and could shoot the puck,” Holland said. “Zidlicky does all those things, and he plays the style of game that we play.”
That was in the midst of the Czech defenseman’s scoring surge, though – it only seven games into Zidlicky’s time with Detroit. He is a high-risk, high-reward type of player, and when the offense dried up, some of Zidlicky’s flaws took over the spotlight.
The Knocks on Marek Zidlicky
While his offensive production exceeded even my expectations, it is apparent that there are some “quirks” in his overall game. For one, I think Zidlicky’s foot speed leaves something desired. Though he is not the slowest in the NHL, it becomes very apparent that during the transition from offense to defense he is not the best skater. When Zidlicky mishandles the puck at the offensive blue line, you get something like this:
When he mishandles the puck inside the defensive zone, you might get something like this:
While he only amassed 18 penalty minutes through his 27 games as a member of the Red Wings, most New Jersey Devils fans will agree that he takes some bad penalties. If it feels like I’m just harping on Zidlicky, I can promise you that I’m not. Even before the Red Wings acquired him, I was hoping Holland would pursue the blueliner. Despite the knocks on Zidlicky, if the offense is there, he becomes a much more valuable player to Detroit. Something else to take into consideration is the future of the Red Wings’ group on defense.
The Big Picture
I think it is important to look at the bigger picture here. While Zidlicky is certainly a boost to the team now, he is also in the twilight of his career. Would it be better to give someone like Xavier Ouellet or Alexei Marchenko a chance? At the same time, what if Holland is able to find a suitor for Jakub Kindl. Would a one-year deal with Zidlicky allows someone like Marchenko to ease into a full-time job with the team? The Devils retained Zidlicky for $ 3M, plus $1M in incentives, so I’ll use that number when considering how much the Red Wings would offer him. I would like to know what you think, so provide some feedback in the comment section below
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I am a writer from Windsor, Ontario who has covered the Detroit Red Wings for The Hockey Writers. I have had the pleasure of doing so since February of 2015. Previously, I have written about Red Wings prospects for Hockey’s Future. I am always up for chatting about the Red Wings and hockey in general, so leave me your comment and/or tweets. Follow me on Twitter at @BrandonPeleshok.