Kevin Fiala, Wild Appear Destined for Messy Divorce
While the last two games haven’t gone as planned, the (11-6-1) Minnesota Wild are off to a great start. But while things are going well overall, there is one giant bombshell that seems ready to explode. In the past week or so, the relationship between the Wild and star winger Kevin Fiala seems to be souring.
Kevin Fiala’s been completely removed from the power play. Both units. Wowza.— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) November 21, 2021
Fiala, one of the Wild’s biggest scoring threats, didn’t move a muscle on the bench during the first and second unit’s shifts.
Asked if Evason had explained why he’s no longer on the power play, Fiala said, “Dean hasn’t, so you can ask him.”
Evason seemed to disagree with the assertion Fiala doesn’t know or understand why.
“We talk to each individual,” Evason said. “We talk to everybody, every guy. The guys know where they stand with us.”
He’s a pending restricted free agent with the right to become an unrestricted free agent in 2023. If the Wild can’t afford him or just don’t want to afford him or commit to him, it’s very possible he’ll be traded, perhaps even soon because he’s not playing well and things are getting visibly uncomfortable between him and Evason.Michael Russo – The Athletic
How did we get here?
Fiala has gotten off to a rough start this season with just three goals and 11 assists through 18 games. Fiala’s seen as the team’s #2 playmaker, behind Kirill Kaprizov, and possibly its most consistent goal scorer. But he’s struggled to put the puck in the net this season and other areas of his game have become noticeably inconsistent.
Throughout his career, Fiala has become known as a guy who takes shifts, even entire games off. And when playing well, Kevin still has a propensity for lazy turnovers in both zones.
Remember, the Wild declined to commit to Fiala long-term last offseason, instead choosing to take him to arbitration, something that’s rarely induced by NHL teams. And now just a few months later, a trade that sends Kevin Fiala out of Minnesota sooner rather than later, is a very real possibility.
Where do we go from here?
After buying out Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Wild locked Joel Eriksson Ek up on an 8 year/$42 million extension. Over the past two seasons (nearly identical amount of games), Fiala posted 94 points to Ek’s 59.
Yet, Fiala was left out to dry after 2021-22, while Eriksson Ek and Kirill Kaprizov (5 years, $92 million) got paid.
If there’s one thing we know about this new Billy Guerin led Minnesota Wild, it’s that bullshit won’t be tolerated. The new GM didn’t hesitate to buy out Parise and Suter and he won’t waste time or space on Fiala either.
If Kevin is someone Guerin views as toxic for the Wild’s locker room culture, he is as good as gone. It’ll be a lot harder to say goodbye to Fiala than Parise or Suter because Fiala is can still play and should be on the rise, not decline. But in reality, Bill Guerin doesn’t care.
When looking at trade possibilities, could this be how the Wild acquire that number one center to pair with Kirill Kaprizov? The cap space in upcoming seasons will make any move difficult, but if the Wild want to make a run this season and trade for a top center off the rental market, Fiala as the departing piece makes a lot of sense.
However things shake out, it’s safe to say that Bill Guerin will do whatever he thinks is best for the team. If that’s trading your second best player in the midst of a successful season, so be it.
Cooper Carlson | Minnesota Sports Fan