Last season was something of an all-in moment for the Minnesota Wild, thanks to the tough cap situation that is just on the horizon. The team will have more than $12.7MM in buyout penalties in 2022-23, and more than $14.7MM in the following two seasons. That means when it comes to extending restricted free agent Kevin Fiala, there isn’t much money in the piggy bank.
That has led to Fiala’s name leading the trade market as the draft approaches, almost a sure bet to be dealt at some point this offseason. He’s the top name on The Athletic’s trade bait board, Michael Russo of The Athletic suggests that he will be dealt within the week, and Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports that things are “intensifying on the Fiala front.”
Last month, Russo and Harman Dayal examined the kind of return the Wild should expect for their young star, following his breakout season that included 33 goals and 85 points. The 25-year-old winger is one of the most dynamic offensive talents in the league, and though there has been some inconsistency throughout his career, could drastically change the outlook of several teams.
His relative youth makes him an attractive target for just about anyone, though he does come with the caveat of restricted free agency. With six years under his belt already, he could go through arbitration and walk directly to the open market in a year, if he doesn’t reach a long-term extension with whatever team acquires him. That is a risk, meaning interested teams would likely want to discuss at least the framework of a contract before actually pulling the trigger on a trade.
With the draft right around the corner and free agency to come, the NHL trade market is about to get interesting. Fiala’s name is right at the top of that and could be the first domino to fall this summer.