'Easy decision': Red Wings loan forward Filip Zadina to Czech team
The Detroit Red Wings have loaned another top prospect to a European hockey team to continue their development during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Forward Filip Zadina, the sixth overall pick in 2018, will play for HC Ocelari Trinec of the Czech Extraliga, the highest-level hockey league in the Czech Republic.
Last week, defenseman Moritz Seider, the sixth overall pick in 2019, was loaned to the Mannheim Eagles of the top league in Germany, the Deutsche Eishockey Liga.
"It was an easy decision for me," Zadina told the Trinec team's website. "Trinec belongs to the top. I think that here are the best conditions for hockey in the Czech Republic. Another thing is coach (Vaclav) Varada, who led me in the junior national team. We won the Hlinka Gretzky Cup (in 2016 with Zadina scoring two goals in the gold-medal game against the United States)."
Zadina's father, Marek, is an assistant coach with HC Ocelari Trinec and a former member of the 1992 Czechoslovakia world junior team.
Head coach Varada scored 58 goals in 493 career NHL games with the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators from 1995-2006.
"I am glad that the situation with Filip has finally been successfully completed and he will work for us," Varada told the website. "I contacted (general manager) Steve Yzerman, outlining our plans and a vision for his use during the NHL break.
"Both the Detroit management and Filip know that they will work honestly with us, as we are used to, and why it would be good for the Red Wings for their young player to play games at a brisk pace before the start of the NHL."
Trinec sports manager Jan Peterek said Zadina will also contribute to the insurance costs of practicing and playing in their 14-team league.
"It would be very risky to pay a lot of money for insurance for NHL players, when it can happen that only three games can be played," Peterek told the website. "Filip offered to share in the financial burden himself. It is a great gesture that we appreciate and it shows how much it is worth playing in Trinec."
Zadina said Red Wings director of player evaluation Jiri Fischer took "the lead" in working out the agreement with Trinec, the 2019 league champions.
Fischer, a native of Horovice in the Czech Republic, was a first-round pick by the Red Wings in 1998, won a Stanley Cup in Detroit in 2002 and retired three years later after he went into cardiac arrest during a game at Joe Louis Arena in 2005.
Varada said Zadina "could be given space" and play in an exhibition game in September before the season starts in October. He is expected to return to the Red Wings as late as November and prepare for training camp, which is tentatively scheduled to begin on Nov. 17 with the 2020-21 season starting on Dec. 1.
Zadina had eight goals, 15 points and was minus-13 in 28 games in Detroit before suffering an ankle injury in February.
The 6-foot, 195-pound winger also had nine goals, 16 points and was minus-9 in 21 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins.