The Minnesota Wild play their season opener in 38 days. Until that time we will be counting down the 10 most important Wild players for the upcoming season.
If the offseason is any indication the upcoming season for the Minnesota Wild is bound to be a roller coaster ride. Then general manager, Paul Fenton signed Mats Zuccarello and Ryan Hartman. Fenton then presided over the draft before getting his walking papers on July 30th.
There is no player that is more of a roller coaster than Kevin Fiala. Fenton acquired Fiala from the Nashville Predators for Mikael Granlund on Feb. 25. In 19 games with the Wild, Fiala displayed why Fenton believed he could be a gamebreaker. He also had long stretches that showed why the Predators were willing to move on from the 11th overall pick in the 2014 draft.
Fiala’s best game as a member of the Wild came on March 5th, in Nashville against his former team. Fiala scored a pair of goals and teased Wild fans with his potential.
Less is more. That should be Kevin Fiala’s mantra as he looks to have a breakout season for the Wild. There is this from Dane Mizutani of the Twins Cities Pioneer Press.
"“He Can carry the puck like a yo-yo through the neutral zone and just as quickly unleash a blistering wrist shot that even the best goaltenders would struggle to stop.His biggest weakness? He’s constantly doing too much when he has the puck on his stick.It seems at least once a game Fiala will try to do it all by himself, dangling his way through defenders, looking for a highlight-reel sequence.”"
In 19 games with the Wild, Fiala finished with three goals and four assists. It will be interesting to see what the Wild get from a full season of the potentially gamebreaking Swiss winger.
During the 2017-2018 season, Fiala finished with 48 points on 23 goals and 25 assists. It’s not out of the question that Fiala finishes with that type of stat line this season and enjoys a breakout season for the Wild as they look to get back to the playoffs.
Ian Tulloch, of The Athletic recently published a piece on the top 10 breakout candidates. Fiala came in at number five.
"“I’m of the opinion that he’s just too talented to not become a 50-plus point player. When you watch him play, you see a fast skater with great edges, high-end skill and excellent vision.”"
Bruce Boudreau, the Wild coach hinted that Fiala would be on the second line and paired with Zach Parise and Luke Kunin. Pairing Parise, who plays with so much heart and grit with Fiala makes a lot of sense. Fiala is a player that will flash and than disappear for long stretches. In what could be a breakout season for the youngster there is no better player to pair him with than Parise.
For a team that lacks ‘gamebreakers’ the Wild need Fiala to become the player that Fenton believed he was. He’s flashed that gamebreaking talent, now it’s time for him to put it all together and become a more consistent player. If he does that the Wild will have a good shot of getting back into the postseason.