Yesterday, The Athletic published the results of a survey in which thousands of NHL fans rated both the front offices of other teams and the confidence they had in their own team’s management. Most notable among the Top 8 in the final rankings was the only team that did not manage an invite to this year’s expanded playoff bubble—in fact, the team that finished at the very bottom of the league by a wide margin in this past season—the Detroit Red Wings.
Though the general public does not necessarily have the highest opinion of the Wings, Hockeytown residents think differently, placing the team in the NHL’s Top 5 for literally every GM category, even ranking them the best (the best!) at free agency, presumably because they picked up guys like Thomas Greiss and Bobby Ryan in the offseason.
The hometown optimism is quite striking, especially when it’s contrasted with the team’s recent performance.
There are a few possible explanations for this gap between what the fans are seeing and what everyone else is seeing. There’s the almost familial love that Detroiters hold for Steve Yzerman, GM now for 19 months. There’s the Cup win by a juggernaut of a Tampa Bay Lightning team that Yzerman largely built. And there’s the fact that “Trust The Process”—i.e., “Don’t fret about the losing seasons because better, younger players are on the horizon”—has proven to be an effective marketing gimmick to fans just about everywhere.
But though this confidence in the Red Wings may seem, in the words of one colleague, “kinda culty,” I shall present some particularly compelling pieces of evidence that helps explain why this faith is perhaps not misplaced. Behold, please, the NHL’s best-kept secret: the former sixth-overall pick, the future Hart winner, the future Art Ross winner, the future Lady Byng winner. Yes, my friends, I am talking about the Czech wunderkind known as Filip Zadina.
Zadina is tearing up the competition for HC Oceláři Třinec in the Czech Extraliga, where he is currently on loan awaiting concrete plans for the next NHL season. In this well-known, highly respected European league, the winger is on a hot streak like you would not believe. Four goals! One assist! And all of that in a mere three games. Watch this 20-year-old’s breakaway score and tell me that he is not the future of Midwestern ice hockey.
I understand that you may not have even heard of Filip Zadina until this very moment, or if you have, you may think of him as “that guy they drafted immediately ahead of Quinn Hughes.” It’s even possible that you think I’m a bit too crazy over the skills of this completely unproven prospect playing thousands of miles away. But no, it is you who is the crazy one, if you choose to ignore the undeniable abilities of Zadina’s wrist. Watch and be amazed, you dumb fools.
The truly incredible news is that Zadina is not the only savior on his way to close the 23-point gap between the Red Wings and the Ottawa Senators. The defenseman Filip Hronek—yes, another Filip!—is also over in the Czech Republic honing his skills after a year and a half in the NHL. Many are saying that this 23-year-old powerhouse is “unbelievably amazing” and “truly spectacular” and even “a future second-liner on a solid team.”
And all this excitement is before we even get to the studs hand-picked by Yzerman himself to recapture this franchise’s long-lost glory days. Chief among these is the 19-year-old D-man Moritz Seider, who began the Stevie Y era by being selected in the first round in 2019. Seider is riding a five-game point streak with Rögle BK in the Swedish league, and engrossing videos showcasing the big teen’s sturdy blue-line play go viral seemingly hourly.
As I have now conclusively proven, the combined roster building, cap management, draft and develop, trading, free agency, and vision abilities of the Detroit Red Wings franchise are unparalleled across the National Hockey League, which means they are clearly deserving of the same level of respect continent-wide that they receive in their own backyard. Look out, Ottawa. Steve Yzerman’s band of youthful Europeans has its sights set on you.