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Photo Credit: Detroit Red Wings twitter account

Clearing Up Filip Zadina’s AHL Eligibility

Well, this has been quite the saga! Since the projected top-3 overall pick fell to 6th overall and became a Detroit Red Wings draftee, fans have been drooling over the prospect of seeing Filip Zadina in the winged wheel come October.

But with the team’s recent action in free agency, the forward lines have filled up quickly and somebody is going to be the odd man out. It could be Zadina. It could be someone else. If it is Zadina, there have been lots of questions about where he can play next season.

Because of a silly rule in the CHL-NHL agreement, CHL prospects are ineligible for the AHL until they are 20-years-old or have played a minimum of four years with their CHL team. Because Zadina was drafted from the Halifax Mooseheads of the CHL, it was widely believed that the 19-year-old only had two options in October: play in the NHL or return to junior hockey.

There’s a way around this rule, though. If a player is “on loan” to the CHL from their European team, then the rules of the CHL-NHL agreement don’t apply to them. Both Zadina and the Red Wings believed that this was the case with Zadina.

This news spread like wildfire and was even confirmed by Craig Custance in his piece from The Athletic. This was good news for the Wings (though bad news for fans who badly wanted Zadina on the opening night roster) as it gave them the freedom to start Zadina in Grand Rapids where he would face tougher competition, instead of in junior where he would dominate every game.

It all seemed fine until the general manager of the Halifax Mooseheads got involved. There’s a reason for the clause in that CHL-NHL agreement. It protects CHL teams from losing their top-end talent to the AHL. In the case of Halifax, Zadina is an exciting player who helps to put butts in seats, meaning sell tickets. So the Moosehead’s GM spoke up, informing us that Zadina was not, in fact, on loan, and would have to be returned to Halifax is he did not make the Red Wings out of training camp.

Finally, the Free Press’ Helene St. James got clarity on the situation. She wrote that Holland “had been informed Halifax Mooseheads general manager Cam Russell wants Zadina back if he’s not in the NHL”.

It’s kind of strange language to be using. Nobody said that Zadina wasn’t on loan, just that the Mooseheads wanted him back. In any case, Holland seems to have agreed to these terms and Zadina will either be playing for the Red Wings or the Mooseheads next year.

This is exciting news for fans because Zadina is far too good for junior hockey and ready to play in the NHL. There will still be growing pains, but this pretty much guarantees that he’ll be on the opening night roster in October.

This also means that somebody else is going to be pushed out of a roster spot. Not including Martin Frk Luke Witkowski, Michael Rasmussen, or Zadina, the Red Wings have 11 forwards under contract. Something has got to give if both Rasmussen and Zadina are going to be in the lineup.

Maybe Holland already knows for a fact that Henrik Zetterberg won’t be returning next year. Or maybe he’s got a trade up his sleeve, waiting to be finalized. Time will tell.

For now, rest easy knowing that Filip Zadina will more than likely be playing for the Red Wings next season.