After moving up one spot in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, the Montreal Canadiens are poised to select third overall for just the third time in franchise history. The Habs have many options with the third pick, but there is one player in particular who could steal the spotlight in La Belle Province.
Filip Zadina: Another Moosehead Prodigy
Year after year, the Halifax Mooseheads produce a player destined to be a top pick in the NHL Entry Draft. In 2013 it was Nathan MacKinnon (and Jonathan Drouin), in 2014 it was Nikolaj Ehlers, 2015 was Timo Meier, 2017 Nico Hischier, and this year that player is Filip Zadina from Pardubice, Czech Republic.
Filip Zadina is currently the third-ranked prospect, according to HockeyProspect.com. A 6’0, 196 lb winger, Zadina is an elite goal-scorer with the ability to control the speed of the game and possesses an extremely high hockey IQ. The Pardubice, Czech Republic native scored 44 goals in 57 games, including 5 goals in 9 playoff games this season for the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL.
Zadina has a lethal wrist shot with a quick release and loves to shoot the puck when he has an open lane. He took 234 shots this season, first among rookie skaters in the CHL, and scored on 18.8% of them. His 82 points were good enough for him to lead the CHL in rookie scoring as well.
Craig Button of TSN says, “Zadina is a determined and hungry scorer. He has the ability to score in multiple ways between the dots and from the top of the circles in the offensive zone. He possesses an excellent release that makes it very hard for goalies to get a read on his shot.
At this year’s World Junior Championship, Zadina helped lead the Czech Republic to their highest finish in 13 years, as the Czech’s would eventually lose in the bronze medal game to USA. Zadina was second in goal scoring for the tournament, netting seven goals in seven games including two goals in the semi-final game versus Canada.
In 2016-17, Zadina suited up against some of Europe’s top talent, playing for the Czech Republic National U18 team where he scored 20 goals in 21 games. In the same year, he played 25 games for HC Pardubice as a seventeen-year-old in the Czech Extraliga, the top professional hockey league in the Czech Republic.
How Zadina Impacts the Canadiens Immediately
Assuming the Buffalo Sabres pick Rasmus Dahlin and the Hurricanes select Andrei Svechnikov, the Canadiens would be wise to draft Filip Zadina third overall at this year’s Entry Draft. Many scouts believe he is ready for the NHL as his two-way game is just as good as his offensive game.
The Canadiens are desperate for goal scorers, and Zadina does just that. Paul Byron and Andrew Shaw are both currently recovering from off-season surgeries and are expected to miss some time at the start of next season. Zadina would have an opportunity to make the team right out of training camp, and could slot in on the second line and see some power play time as well.
Habs Need Scoring Depth
Zadina has the potential to be a 30-goal scorer in the NHL. After scoring 44 in 57 with the Mooseheads this season, there is no doubt he could score 40 at the NHL level as well. The only current Canadiens players to score 30 or more goals in the past five seasons are Max Pacioretty, Brendan Gallagher, and Alex Galchenyuk.
Drafting Filip Zadina gives the Canadiens more flexibility on the wing and more depth in the goal-scoring department. The Canadiens struggled offensively last season, finishing dead last in goals-for. Zadina would have an immediate impact on the Habs’ offense and could help them take a huge leap forward in their quest to return to the playoffs.
Tim McKinnon is a sports writer covering prospects and junior players for The Hockey Writers. Tim is a 4th year BBA student studying at Saint Francis Xavier University. For any questions on current or future NHL prospects, send Tim an e-mail at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @TimmyMcKinnon.