Rookie Richard Zednik puts on a show
Despite the Capitals’ mediocre record of 2-6-2 through the past ten games, the rookies have been putting on a show, particularly Richard Zednik. After a few years of being shuttled back and forth between Washington and Portland of the AHL, the young Slovak has earned a regular spot with the Caps alongside fellow rookie Jan Bulis. A sparkplug catalyst, Zednik provides the Caps with a jump start when they’re behind and his refreshing enthusiasm reinstates the meaning of the word ‘game’.
The Capitals are know as a gritty club that is strong defensively and high in character. All signs point to Richard Zednik being a prototypical Cap. The left winger reminds some of a bigger(though not much at 5-10, 176) Theo Fleury in the feisty way he scraps and instigates his fair share of penalties. Zednik is small by NHL standards but strong as an ox and extremely well-conditioned. He spends much of his time digging for the puck in the corners and trenches, as well as setting up a screen for loose rebounds in the slot. Richard seems to be made of rubber in that every time he’s checked, he bounces right back up. He also has no qualms in taking on the biggest, baddest boys in the NHL, throwing his smallish frame around much the way Sabres’ Mike Peca does.
In terms of finesse skills, quality not quantity is the case. Zednik is a tremendous puckhandler that can maneuver through traffic with ease and turn defensemen inside and out with his lightning-quick dekes and headfakes. His excellent upper body strength allows him to push off pesky offenders while maintaining control of the puck as he drives to the goal. He also is a passing wizard, throwing the puck directly into the slot from the corners or making the perfect cup-and-saucer pass to set up a offensive break. His hockey sense is average although he has excellent anticipation. Zednik has a good nose for the net but has been unable to find a consistent scoring touch at the NHL. That should come with time, as will improvement in the mental part of the game.
Richard Zednik is a dark horse candidate for the Calder trophy but fellow Washington rookies Bulis and Yogi Svejkovsky could push him to be a legitimate contender. Either way, the late Jack Button’s scouting brilliance will continue to shine is young guns like Richard Zednik.