0Filip Zadina, Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL
Photo Credit: Jenae Anderson

The Red Wings should call up Filip Zadina for a few games

In wake of Dylan Larkin being sidelined 1-2 weeks with a strained oblique and the uncertainty with Tyler Bertuzzi‘s upper body injury, the Red Wings lineup has never looked so depleted (which is saying something). While Michael Rasmussen is expected to return to the big club in the coming days, these lines look terrifying. Is that Justin Abdelkader on the first line?

This is no buenos.  Despite defeating the Ottawa Senators without Larkin or Bertuzzi, I can’t imagine deploying these lines for much longer without getting steamed-rolled. The problem is…what can head coach Jeff Blashill really do? These are the players he has to work with. Shifting a few names around won’t do very much in terms of icing a competitive team.

While neither Larkin or Bertuzzi have been ruled out for Thursday’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights, Its times like this they need to look in the mirror and realize who they are. When you’re down to the bare bones in a rebuild its time to call some kids up. Experimenting now in preparation for next season. The player I’m looking at is 2018 first rounder Filip Zadina. Detroit would have to bring up a forward and he makes the most sense.

The fan-base has been waiting all season to see Zadina get some NHL action. Having him play out the year in Grand Rapids was the smart decision, but it’s time to challenge him a bit. The team right now looks uninspiring for fans to continue putting up with a losing product. Bringing up someone like Dominic Turgeon would be far from a reward. Zadina would bring excitement and a reason to watch as they continue down the course without their best player.

Now obviously, the call-up needs to make sense from a developmental perspective, and I think the timing now is right. Zadina to date has had a good, albeit, not spectacular first pro season. 11 goals and 22 points in 38 games for the Griffins is a very respectable stat-line. Consistency is still an area of focus for the Czech native, with some nights being better than others.

I’m not suggesting Zadina is ready to step into the NHL and make a significant impact. But I’ve learned over the years that getting a taste of the NHL before you’re fully ready can be valuable experience. The player can get a better understanding of the speed and physicality of the NHL. Something I think could help spark Zadina when he returns to the Griffins in hopes of making the playoffs.

The Wings won’t want to play him more than nine games this season so that his entry-level contract can slide a year, which is why I feel bringing him up now makes sense. Rather then blowing by all nine games at once towards the end of the year, 3-4 games now creates a baseline to follow his progression for another call-up late in the season.

We’ve seen this before with the Red Wings approach to developing players in the AHL. Anthony Mantha and Bertuzzi didn’t last their first stint in the NHL. They came in for a handful of games and struggled. After another go-around in the AHL, the growth in their game once they returned to the NHL was very noticeable. Players know what to expect for their second time around.

The Red Wings have that opportunity now with their prized prospect. This could be the first step in filling opponent’s nets with pucks.