TORONTO — The Detroit Red Wings weighed their options, and decided the best one is to give Filip Zadina a chance to lead the Czechs to a medal on a world stage.
They will allow Zadina to play at the World Junior Championship, Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia.
“It’s a great stage, a great experience,” general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press on Thursday at Scotiabank Arena.
“He’s going to be an important player for the Czech team. It’s a fabulous experience for him to go and play against the best players in the world. He had a great experience last year, and can get another one this year.”
Zadina, drafted by the Wings at sixth overall in June, scored seven goals at last year’s event, tied for a tournament high.
The Wings considered keeping Zadina with the Grand Rapids Griffins but decided on a compromise: while training camps for the tournament begin next week, the Wings won't allow Zadina to join in until Dec. 20.
“I think it’s great for him,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “It’s hard to be in real confident situations when you get into pro hockey, and I think he can go to play for the Czechs and be the man.
“There’s nothing like the confidence that you get when you produce offensively and you have the ability to control the game. He can go there and hopefully have a great tournament and that confidence will filter back when he comes back to (Grand Rapids).”
Zadina, 19, has seven goals and eight assists in 23 games with the Griffins.
Dylan Larkin played in the 2015 World Juniors, and described it as a great experience.
“That was my first time where it was a big stage, a lot of media, a lot of attention,” Larkin said. “We had a good team with Jack Eichel and a lot of NHL players. It’s a good measurement for yourself against all the best players (who) want to play in the NHL. I remember Filip last year at World Juniors, he was a big scorer for the Czechs and he was fun to watch. I’m hoping he can do the same this year. It’ll be exciting for him.”