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Red Wings get their man, Filip Zadina, at No. 6

Sniper hopes to make teams that passed on him pay

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji / DetroitRedWings.com

DALLAS -- About an hour before the draft started, Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland was asked if he might sprint to the stage if forward Filip Zadina was still on the board at No. 6.

Holland laughed it off, saying the Wings would get a good player but the truth is Zadina was not supposed to be available there.

Every mock draft had the Buffalo Sabres taking defenseman Rasmus Dahlin first and the Carolina Hurricanes taking Andrei Svechnikov second.

Most of those same mock drafts had Zadina going third to the Montreal Canadiens but the Canadiens knocked everyone a bit for a loop by taking center Jesperi Kotkaniemi with the No. 3 pick.

That is when the Wings first started to believe there might be a chance to get Zadina to Hockeytown.

Then the Ottawa Senators grabbed forward Brady Tkachuk fourth, leaving the Arizona Coyotes as the one team that could prevent the Wings from taking Zadina.

Instead, the Coyotes selected center Barrett Hayton.

While Holland didn't sprint, he didn't hesitate to grab Zadina when he and the rest of Detroit's management reached the stage at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

"Zadina at six for us was a little bit of a shock," said Tyler Wright, Detroit's director of amateur scouting. "You never know what the true answer is of what teams are trying to move up and get, but there was such a good cluster of D. We talked about it, whether it was (Evan) Bouchard, (Noah) Dobson, (Adam) Boqvist, (Quinn) Hughes. It was kind of the theme. We kind of thought we might be targeting one of those guys but obviously when Zadina fell to us there wasn't much dialogue."

Zadina admitted to being a little surprised he ended up with the Wings but not at all disappointed.

"It feels awesome," Zadina said. "I feel so happy right now. I don't get it still that I am in Detroit, so maybe tomorrow when I wake up I will just say, 'OK I am in Detroit.' I am so happy. It's gone so quick that I can't even realize it that I am in Detroit."

When asked what he liked about Zadina, Wright said, "Everything."

"We watched him very close all year," Wright continued. "Obviously, the ability to score goals. We tried to pick him apart -- how creative is he? How good is his hockey sense? We kept coming back time after time. He just wasn't a one-trick pony that would just score, he's got good hockey sense, he creates plays, he's a good character kid, he competes, he kills penalties, he scores in various ways, he's got a good release, just a very good overall offensive hockey player."

Zadina, listed at 6-feet, 190 pounds, led all Quebec Major Junior Hockey League rookies in goals with 44 and points with 82 this past season for the Halifax Mooseheads.

Tweet from @HFXMooseheads: ��Our boy is headed to Hockeytown! ��Congratulations to Filip Zadina on going to Detroit 6th overall at the #NHLDraft @filip_zadina @DetroitRedWings pic.twitter.com/ixQCpzip0a

Mike Morreale of NHL.com said the Czech forward "goes to the tough areas to generate chances and has the makings of a perennial 30-goal scorer in the NHL."

Guillaume Lepage, also of NHL.com, said, "He had a great season and took advantage of every opportunity to showcase his individual skills. A sharpshooter with good size, he can change the course of a game when he decides to take matters into his own hands."

The Red Line Report projected Zadina as a first line sniper that they compared to St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko, saying, "Deadly shooter is a pure sniper who doesn't need much time or space to score. Has a heavy, accurate shot and a sixth sense about finding soft areas to release it. Shows excellent puck control. Can score in a variety of ways, and like all great scorers, he's never deterred - just keeps shooting knowing he'll eventually find the back of the net. Has a dynamic 1-timer and smartly uses d-men to screen his release. Cares a ton about winning and wants to be a good teammate. Skating is not exceptional but he changes directions and speeds well and is incredibly persistent and determined to get the puck and do something with it. More than willing to go into dangerous areas to score, but sometimes makes himself vulnerable to big hits. His playmaking ability gets overlooked, but he's got good vision to find open teammates or make simple little plays to get the puck out of trouble in his own end."

Zadina mentioned a different Russian sniper when asked which NHL player he liked the best.

"Nikita Kucherov, I love to watch him on the ice, a special player," Zadina said. "I model my game after him."

The Wings would certainly love it if Zadina turns out to be as prolific a scorer as the Tampa Bay Lightning's Kucherov is in the NHL.

The Red Line Report's mock draft also had Zadina going third to the Canadiens.

"Everybody else was probably expecting that I'm going to be in Montreal but it's a draft, anything can happen," Zadina said. "I was projected third, I'm going six. I don't really care about numbers. I'm just glad I can be in Detroit. It's an awesome team and hope it's going to fit me well."

However, Zadina did note that Montreal and Ottawa are both in the Atlantic Division with Detroit and he would likely be seeing them a lot.

"I told my agent if they will pass on me I'm going to fill up their net with pucks," Zadina said. "I just want to prove to them they did a bad decision. I'm so glad I'm in Detroit. I just want to prove to Detroit they made a good decision."

Zadina spent the day passing the time with his parents, visiting the Dallas World Aquarium and relaxing before heading to the draft.

"I wasn't nervous," Zadina said. "I was nervous when I get in here to the rink. It's draft day. It was a nervous day but I was trying to chill out and not think about the draft. It was a long day in front of me but now it's done and I'm in Detroit. It's just awesome."

Zadina said he has never been to Detroit but his agent, Ryan Barnes, was a Red Wings draft pick in 1998, taken in the second round, 55th overall.

"He's told me that he's going to take good care of me because he's from Detroit," Zadina said with a smile. "It is a good for me that my agent is so close. It's good stuff for me."

Barnes was equally excited to have his young charge follow in his footsteps.

"Anything can happen in the excitement of the NHL Draft and for Red Wing fans and for Fil it's a thrill to be drafted into such a great organization," Barnes said. "Just the way the organization takes care of its players. I'm really thrilled for him and the fans. The fans are getting an exciting young goal scorer."

Zadina doesn't know a lot about the Wings yet but he is familiar with a few of the players.

"I haven't looked at the team so far, but I know (Henrik) Zetterberg, the captain, and Dylan Larkin," he said. "They're awesome players. They have pretty good D as well and (Niklas) Kronwall, I'll be careful with him in the first practices. It's a special place. I would love to play with them."

Zadina does know one player in the Detroit organization, defenseman and fellow Czech Republic native Filip Hronek, who has an excellent chance to make the Wings this coming season after a standout rookie year with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins.

"I know Filip Hronek, we played against each other in the Czech Republic and been together in some national camps, so I got a Czech mate there, so I'll be OK," Zadina said.

Wright wouldn't speculate on how close Zadina is to NHL-ready but did say he'd be given every opportunity to make the team out of training camp.

"He has to have a good summer and give himself the best chance to make the team," Barnes said. "He certainly has the talent to do so."

Zadina is excited to make his first trip to Detroit next week to join the rest of the team's prospects for development camp at the BELFOR Center at Little Caesars Arena.

"I was waiting for this day since I was a little kid," Zadina said. "It's finally here. It's over and done with. I'm just looking forward to being in Detroit and fighting for my spot on the team."

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