Kevin Fiala has been a dynamic player for the Minnesota Wild over the last two years with 43 goals and 94 points in 114 games.
That has put the 24-year-old forward in line for a big payday in his next contract. The question is should he stay as a key member of the Wild’s core, or should he go via a trade.
While the former seems the obvious and likely option given Fiala’s game-breaking abilities, a recent Wild fan survey conducted by The Athletic shows that the latter can’t be dismissed.
The results showed that 69.3% of those in responded said they would be in favor of .trading the pending restricted free agent if it could help the team land a top-six center in return.
Michael Russo wrote that the results surprised him but added that he got the sense through talks with individuals around the league that Wild general manager Bill Guerin has at least tested the waters in trade talks about Fiala.
"For me, it depends on the center. If it’s for a star like Eichel or Mika Zibanejad (who would need to be re-signed within a year) or somebody of that ilk, of course.If it’s for somebody like Sam Reinhart, who is a fellow pending restricted free agent and coincidentally has the same agent as Fiala, that’s sort of iffy for me."
On the other hand, Guerin stated last week that the team has turned attention to contract talks with both Fiala and Kirill Kaprizov. It comes after the team extended Joel El Eriksson with an eight-year $42 million contract. The team then signed Nick Bjugstad to a one-year $900,000 contract just three days later.
Those moves left the Wild with about $16.8 million available under the salary cap to work with.
It might come down to what Fiala is asking for and what the Wild are potentially able to reach an agreement with Kaprizov on.
The Athletic fan survey asked: What would you pay Kevin Fiala? 54.8% of those that responded said between $5 to $6 million per season would be reasonable. Another 35.2% responded a range of betrween $6 to $7 million would work.
"Fiala’s got to be careful if he wants to stay in Minnesota.By all indications, the Wild aren’t offering him Kaprizov-like numbers, so if he expects to be a $7, $8 or $9 million player, he’ll run the risk of being traded or in a second consecutive contract squabble with the Wild. And by all indications, Fiala expects to be paid handsomely after producing during his bridge deal."
Fiala was traded to Minnesota in February 2019 for Mikael Granlund after he scored 10 goals and 32 points in 64 games with the Nashville Predators. He expressed his desire to remain with the Wild during a season-ending media session after the playoff series loss to Vegas.
“Yeah, of course,” Fiala said. “Ever since I got traded here, I love it here. I want to win here. Let’s see what happens.”
The guess is fiala remains with the Wild even if it might be the deal that he hopes for right now. While he has significant trade bait appeal, it doesn’t feel like the right play for the Wild, or Fiala, to move on from each other.