DETROIT -- When Filip Zadina was the sixth overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, he was widely considered as one of the biggest steals in the first round of the Draft.
And now, after his first full season with the Detroit Red Wings, Zadina is showing flashes of the brilliance that garnered such hype coming out of the 2018 class.
Zadina headed into the NHL season with a lot of confidence, coming off an impressive showing for HC Ocelari Trinec in the Czech Extraliga last fall to start his 2020-21 campaign.
Video: DET@CAR: Zadina elevates Rasmussen's set-up for PPG
While the COVID-19 pandemic delayed hockey in North America, the Pardubice, Czech Republic native gained valuable experience with 14 points in 17 games in the difficult Czech league, and Zadina carried that experience and confidence with him to Detroit this past season.
"I feel better than I felt my first two years and two camps," Zadina said during training camp in January. "I believe I am more confident in a way I have never been before. Especially when I was playing games in Czech Republic, it made me feel more comfortable, too, on the ice. I am more confident and ready to go."
Zadina scored a career-high 19 points on six goals and 13 assists in 49 games for the Red Wings this past season. The 21-year-old forward also earned a career-high 16:48 of average ice time and was a staple on the Red Wings' power play.
After a promising start to the season in which he helped Detroit go 2-2 against two 2020 playoff teams in the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets, Zadina missed seven games in the NHL's COVID-19 protocol in late January.
Video: CAR@DET: Fabbri, Zadina team up for late lead
But Zadina didn't let the setback deter him, as he earned two points in his first three games back after the two-week absence, including his first goal of the season on Feb. 9 against the Florida Panthers.
Zadina has shown incredible discipline on the ice throughout his young career, committing only one penalty in his 86 career NHL games. For his efforts this season, after committing zero penalties, Zadina garnered a second-place vote for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship, as voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said he thinks Zadina has shown some of the most growth among young Wings players and he respects Zadina's competitive drive and his will to win.
"The thing about Filip Zadina is he's a competitor," Blashill said in April. "He wants to win, and he understands what winning hockey looks like. He's not perfect. There's times he's turned pucks over and things like that, but he understands what winning hockey looks like. His dad's a coach. He knows what it looks like."
Video: TBL@DET: Zadina buries give-and-go goal off a rush
Those competitive juices kept flowing for Zadina after the season, as he was one of three Red Wings players (alongside Jakub Vrana and Filip Hronek) to represent the Czech Republic at the 2021 IIHF World Championship earlier this month in Latvia.
Zadina played well for his home country, earning two goals and two assists in eight games, helping to lead the Czechs to the tournament quarterfinals.
The winger now sets his sights on a full offseason of training and continued development as he prepares for his second full NHL campaign and hopes to help the Red Wings get back into playoff contention.
Zadina has one year left on his entry-level contract, and Blashill said he hopes Zadina will be part of a winning Red Wings club moving forward.
"Ultimately, that competitiveness is going to allow him to be a heck of a player and help us win hockey games here in the future," Blashill said. "I really like him as a player, I really like him as a person."