Richard Zednik showed promise as a speedy centre with the potential to produce offensively in the NHL while representing Slovakia in the 1993 and 1994 European Junior Hockey Championships. He was the Washington Capitals 10th choice, 249th overall in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft and moved to North America to play with the WHL's Portland Winter Hawks in 1994-95, scoring 35 goals in his rookie year. He increased his offensive numbers in his sophomore year, earning Second Team All-Star honours.
Zednik represented Slovakia at the 1996 World Junior Championships and in August 1996 he played in the World Cup of Hockey tournament. Sandwiched in between these events was his NHL debut with the Capitals, on April 13, 1996, his only NHL game that season. The following season he scored his first NHL goal in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks, but spent most of the season in the AHL with the Portland Pirates.
His speed, shot and goal-scorers instinct led to his being compared with teammate Peter Bondra, but due to injury troubles it wasn't until the 1997-98 season that Zednik stuck with the Capitals on a full-time basis. On December 5, 1997, he scored the first-ever goal at the new MCI Center and in the playoffs he scored seven times as the Capitals went all the way to the Stanley Cup finals.
Injuries continued to hamper his development with the Capitals over the next two seasons and he was packaged at the 2001 trade deadline in a deal with the Montreal Canadiens, finishing the year with 19 goals in 74 games. Zednik has added some grit to his game and continues to possess the foot speed and offensive talents required of a first-line NHL forward. Upon his arrival in Montreal, Zednik has become one of the team's more durable players while seeing his offensive totals improve each season. Zednik established a career high in goals with 31 and points with 50 during the 2002-03 season and went on to duplicate his point total again in 2003-04.
In the summer of 2006, Zednik was traded by the Montreal Canadiens to the Washington Capitals in exchange for a 3rd round choice in the 2007 Entry Draft.
In his first season with the Capitals, Zednik would miss 25 games with a groin injury. He returned to the club and tallied 18 points in 32 games before being dealt to the New York Islanders at the trading deadline. Zednik would compete in 10 regular season, and 5 playoff games with the Islanders before being signed in the off-season by the Florida Panthers.
As a member of the Florida Panthers, Zednik was involved in one of the most horrific on-ice incidents in NHL history. In a regular season game between Zednik's Panthers and the Buffalo Sabres, teammate Olli Jokinen's skate blade accidentally cut the external carotid artery of Zednick's neck. Zednick immediately skated to the Panther bench and was treated by team trainers until emergency personnel arrived at HSBC Arena. Although Zednik lost five units of blood that night, his life was saved in an emergency surgery which repaired his carotid artery.
Aside from his World Junior and World Cup experiences, Zednik has also represented his homeland at the World Championship (2001, 2003 and 2005), and the Winter Olympics (2006).