The contract impasse between the Minnesota Wild and forward Kevin Fiala will come to an end within the next few days. True, it might take the decision of a neutral arbitrator but the matter will be settled.
The question is for how long and how much?
Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reported on Sunday morning that the figures the two sides have submitted for Tuesday’s arbitration hearing. Fiala is asking for $6.25 million, while the Wild have countered with an offer for $4 million.
MIchael Russo of The Athletic tweeted that Fiala has opted for a one-year deal, so if the arbitrator sides with the 25-year-old, he will be a restricted free agent again after the 2021-22 season.
Then again, the two sides could reach agreement on a deal before Tuesday and avoid a decision being made in the matter.
It was the the Wild, not Fiala, that elected to pursue. arbitration in the first place.
Russo wrote previously on the contract negotiations between the sides:
"All indications from the outset were Fiala wanted to sign long term at big money, and the Wild have indicated all along they weren’t comfortable going super long with him unless the salary figure made sense to them.It obviously has not.After getting into a contract dispute with Fiala two summers ago before his eventual two-year, $6 million bridge deal, the Wild want to make sure he’s at training camp this time around, particularly after his slow start in 2019-20 following his late arrival."
Fiala has scored 43 goals and 94 points in 114 games with the Wild since he was acquired from the Nashville Predators in February 2019 for Mikael Granlund. Fiala voiced his interest in remaining with the Wild in a season-ending Zoom meeting with the media.
He has been pretty quiet over the summer since that but found himself as a center of speculation in the offseason as if the Wild would consider trading him as part of a package to land a top-flight center for the organization.
That potential move was even supported by roughly 70% of the people who responded to the proposal as part of a Wild fan poll earlier this summer.
One would believe that the Wild would like to hold onto Fiala long-term for his scoring and playmaking abilities but it might be tough given the financial restraints Minnesota will find itself in shortly.
The buyouts of both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter this offseason will result in the team taking salary cap hits of $12.74 million to $14.74 million annually over the next two to three years. It means the Wild will have to be more creative with less disposable income available.
The Wild have also been negotiating with their superstar forward Kirill Kaprizov, and while there have been posturing threats from his agent of a return to the KHL, it is pretty clear that the Wild will eventually reach a contract agreement with him. The price of that could potentially be between $8 to $9 million per season.
Those negotiations are still in place, but with Fiala, the Wild should have one of their young stars locked up here in the short future.
The question is how happy will he be with the outcome?