There was little question that Kevin Fiala was going to be moved this summer.
It was just a matter of when and where and for what in return.
Reckless speculation ended Wednesday when the left winger, a pending restricted free agent, was sent to the Los Angeles Kings in return for the No. 19 pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft and also University of Minnesota defenseman and Maple Grove native Brock Faber, who the Kings picked at No. 45 in the ’20 draft.
The Wild now have two of the first 24 picks in the draft that begins on July 7 at the Bell Centre in
Montreal, and Minnesota also holds selections at No. 47 and 56 as well.
It also gives some financial wiggle room for a Wild team that is salary cap-strapped after last year’s buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
Minnesota was not going to be able to afford to give Fiala the type of contact he wanted, especially after he put together a career year with 33 goals and 85 points this season. His reported extension with the Kings was beyond what would work for Minnesota.
Plus was Minnesota ever completely sold on Fiala?
True the 25-year-old was a fan favorite and could be a dynamic scorer during his time in Minnesota.
The key word being could.
He had a 79 goals and 186 points in 215 career games with the Wild and it could be argued that he was the franchise’s biggest scoring threat for a few seasons pre-Kirill Kaprizov. But Fiala, who the Wild acquired in a trade with Nashvile on Feb 25, 2019, also had stretches were he was almost invisible on the ice.
He had just three assists in the Wild’s first-round loss to St. Louis in six games this postseason and a minus-5 rating for the series.
That inconsistency might be a reason why the Wild re-signed Fiala to a one-year, $5.1 million deal last offseason when the winger was hoping for a long-term deal and bigger payday. The Wild also became locked into a contract dispute with Fiala a few years back that led to the Switzerland native reporting late to training camp.
Now Fiala has his contract and money and is with a Kings team that welcomes his offensive game.
And the Wild are one of the the team’s sitting pretty heading into the draft and have a solid prospect in Faber.’
The question is whether this is just the start of moves that the Wild will make between now and the start of training camp?
It is clear, however that the Fiala trade is one move they had to make.