Zadina, 23, was previously waived by the Detroit Red Wings on July 3 and subsequently cleared unconditional waivers Friday to have his previous contract terminated. That made Zadina an unrestricted free agent available to land anywhere, although based on NHL rules he will revert to being a restricted free agent at the end of this season.
Signing with a new team is the positive outcome Zadina was looking for. The 23-year-old mutually agreed to part ways with Detroit when he wasn't picked up by another team off the waiver wire. Zadina still had two years remaining on his deal and could have remained in the Red Wings' system; instead he chose to walk away from nearly $5 million in guaranteed money to explore other opportunities.
Detroit was also able to open up an additional $1.8 million in cap space with Zadina off the books for good.
Sending Zadina out this way isn't how Detroit drew it up. The club drafted Zadina sixth overall in the 2018 NHL draft and expected he would play a prominent role in the team's lineup from there. Injuries held Zadina back at times, though, and his game never truly ignited within the Red Wings' system.
In 190 NHL games, Zadina has produced just 28 goals and 68 points. When Detroit drafted Zadina, he was coming off his final season with the QMJHL's Halifax Mooseheads, where he gathered 82 points in 57 games.
Whatever worked for Zadina then didn't catch on in Detroit, but there are no hard feelings as that chapter comes to a close.
"Filip wanted a fresh start," Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman said in a news conference Monday. "He's able to do that. ... I tried to trade him, we put him on waivers, just couldn't move him. This is the only way to get a fresh start. I really respect him for making this decision. He's not a dumb person.
"He knows what he's given up. But his career is more important than the dollars, and I wish him well, I really do."
Zadina has decided to bet on himself now with San Jose on a one-year "prove it" deal. The Sharks need help up front, and Zadina should earn plenty of ice time to showcase his skill set. If Zadina is confident he can turn previous sparks of offensive excellence into more consistent output, this season could set him up nicely for negotiation of a larger -- and longer -- contract next summer.