Will Zadina score 20 goals this season?
And if he doesn't, is he a failure?
That's kind of where I'm at right now when it comes to the Red Wings and their top draft pick from last year. If Filip Zadina is in the lineup full-time this season (and everything to this point suggests he will be), then he needs to be scoring at least 20 goals as a rookie.
It's 20 goals or bust. I am so sick of hearing the "he needs to play both ends" -- a 200-foot game -- before he gets real minutes. If he scores, does it matter all that much if a rookie winger is not playing shutdown hockey? Offense is not as cheap as it once was, just take a look around the league. That's a link to Artemi Panarin's contract news. When you hear or read his name, do you think, "Wow, he's such a great two-way player! How exciting!" No, you don't. You think about what an offensive threat he is and how much of a headache he gives other teams in their own zone.
The Red Wings need goal scorers like that, and that's exactly what Zadina was promised to be: a threat in the offensive zone. Not every player on this team is going to be the all-around workhorse that is Dylan Larkin. Not everyone needs to be. But there is a need for specialists, particularly when it comes to putting the puck in the back of the net.
Sure, we all want to see Zadina blossom into a smarter, more responsible NHL forward, but let's not forget about or devalue the goals. He played nine games with the Red Wings this past season -- he scored 1 goal and 2 assists in that limited time. In 59 games played with the Griffins -- his first season of professional hockey in North America -- he scored 16 goals and 19 assists.
Give him the chance to do it!
It's not unreasonable to demand 20 goals from him this season if he is playing a full-time role on the first or second line. This is more of a demand for the entire team than it is for Zadina himself, because he needs to be in that role for it to happen. He needs to be playing decent minutes on the second or first line, and he needs power play time. If he is buried on the 3rd line and forced to play that kind of role, you can probably forget it, and that will be a sad story all season. Might as swell send him to Grand Rapids.
Let's hope that does not happen, OK?
By the way, in November last year I wrote this: "Andreas Athanasiou is on the Red Wings to score goals. Period." He ended up scoring 30 as we finally got to see him blossom. The point is there is a theme right now: Turn these offensive prospects into NHL goal scorers before it's too late.
I want to hear from you
Tell me what you think about Zadina. Tell me what you think about the team in general. Tell me what you think about the Amazon rainforest fires. Just talk to me, you know.
And I will get back to you, and we can have fun this season. I can't wait for Training Camp to come and go so that we have a better clue about what the heck this Red Wings roster will look like. Soon we'll start speculating about whether this team can and/or should make the ... wait for it ... playoffs.
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