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Zadina Still Looking for Consistency, And Not Just With Scoring

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Credit: Dean Tait/Hockey Shots

It was an up-and-down first season with the San Jose Sharks for Filip Zadina.

Will the pending RFA return next year?

“Guys who have been drafted where he was, the expectations are so high,” head coach David Quinn said. “It’s a tough thing when you come to the National Hockey League, and you have to have to develop. So much is expected of young players this day and age and it’s really unfair.”

On one hand, Zadina, the sixth-overall pick of the 2018 Draft, set a career-high in goals with the San Jose Sharks this season. On the other hand, that career-high was just 13 goals, unremarkable for someone selected to be a future sniper. Zadina has just 41 goals in 262 NHL games.

Zadina started off slow with four goals through the first half of his season. He did get hot when he recorded seven goals and two assists during a 12-game span between Feb. 15 and Mar. 12.

But Quinn isn’t that worried about the goals. Instead, he’s focused on Zadina accepting that he may not be the big-time scorer in the NHL that he was billed to be, and being effective in other ways on the ice.

“I think he’s still trying to figure out what he is going to be at the National Hockey League level,” Quinn said. “It’s a process for every player. I think he’s still trying to figure it out. I thought he made progress this year.”

There were flashes of that, Zadina not chasing offense and playing a direct, hard game.

Zadina Turning Corner? ‘There’s no BS in his game right now’ (+)

But just flashes — not only was Zadina’s scoring inconsistent, but so was playing a simple, direct two-way game.

If you’re not scoring, you have to play winning hockey in other areas, which Zadina struggled to do consistently.

“Part of development is to try to change people’s mindset,” Quinn said. “It is very difficult to do that. He’s still a young man, who’s been in the league [for] six years of pro [hockey], but he’s only 24.”

One thing that’s consistent about Zadina?

“I just expected him to come in here, work hard and give an honest effort, and he did that,” Quinn said.

But now, San Jose has to make a decision on the pending RFA. Zadina made a big bet on himself last summer, agreeing to a mutual contract termination with the Detroit Red Wings and walking away from a guaranteed $4.56 million, so he could sign a one-year, $1.1 million deal with the Sharks.

It remains to be seen if it was a winning bet for Zadina.

The San Jose Sharks have just six NHL forwards under contract next season in Logan Couture, Mikael Granlund, Fabian Zetterlund, Nico Sturm, Klim Kostin, and William Eklund. So there’s plenty of opportunity for Zadina.

But with offense-oriented forwards like Eklund, Granlund, Zetterlund, Kostin, and Thomas Bordeleau showing some pop, plus possibly Will Smith and hopefully Macklin Celebrini joining in 2024-25, along with Couture, who’s missed most of the season with injury, is there enough time to go around?

It’s up to Zadina to adapt his game, but it’s still a work in progress.

“He and I have had many conversations about what he’s going to be able to do to be successful and be an everyday player in this league,” Quinn said.

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