Paul Fenton Is Way Smarter Than Us and He Knew It

Photo: Shari L. Gross

Who would have thought Paul Fenton would be considered by many, as the GM that got away from the Minnesota Wild… We stood, flabbergasted, when he traded away our prized Mikael Granlund for a former top pick who looked like a shell of what many once thought he would be.

It’s true. You don’t have to watch Kevin Fiala for more than a period right now, to realize he is head and shoulders better than what Granlund was. That’s not a knock on Granlund. He’s considered one of the better playmakers in the NHL…. but Kevin Fiala is proving to be on another level.

Look at the video above. The patience and skill it takes to rope-a-dope that puck around the defenseman’s limbs and stick, while waiting for that hair-of-a-second moment, to flick it blocker-side top corner… well, that’s shit we haven’t seen since Marion Gaborik… or maybe ever.

We were praying for something like this when we pictured Kirill Kaprizov in green and red… but now, Kevin Fiala is our mans and Kaprizov still should be too. All of this possible superstar fortune and bright future for the Wild, has me looking outside for a meteor the government hasn’t told us about.

Meanwhile, Paul Fenton is cussing… maybe laughing… sometimes both, as he watches Fiala blossom right before his eyes, as he views from a TV with NHL Pass. Fiala isn’t his only hit either.

Fenton traded away Charlie Coyle, and got Ryan Donato last season, too. This trade looked better than the Granlund/Fiala deal, in the immediate weeks that followed. More recently though, Donato has been buried on the 4th line a lot of nights and guys like Michael Russo of The Athletic, are still scratching their heads as to why.

I’m a proponent of [Donato] getting more ice time. He entered last game seventh in the NHL with 1.49 goals per 60 minutes and no player with 14 goals in the NHL even comes close to his paltry ice time. So, I’m not defending it. I do think Evason really likes the way the Donato-Koivu-Hartman line is going right now, so he doesn’t want to fiddle with it. But he has also explained that he’s trying to work with Donato on his defensive game and has really worked with him on video on being on the right side of the puck in his own zone. But I give this kid credit: Outwardly, he has been patient, mature and professional. Inwardly, I’m sure he too is wondering, “What gives?”

Michael Russo – The Athletic

Fenton’s 2019 draft is looking damn good too, especially now that Matthew Boldy (1st-rounder) has picked it up recently, at Boston College. Adam Beckman (3rd rounder) has been absolutely dominating the WHL, and was the first player in the league to 100 points this season.

Vladislov Firstov was Fenton’s 2nd round pick and he is 3rd in points for UConn, in his freshman season, and has won the Hockey East Rookie of the Week multiple times. Hunter Jones was the Wild’s other 3rd-round pick in 2019 and he is killing it in the CHL, posting a 2.79 GAA in 48 games. He just saved 40 shots the other night, for his 4th shutout of the season and 30th win.

Paul Fenton was the mad hockey genius he always claimed to be… and he didn’t give a fuck who didn’t see it. He had a plan to get a couple of guys he wanted, and he was going to get them, no matter the cost.

Why? Because he knew what we didn’t. They were undiscovered talent just waiting to be tapped, especially Kevin Fiala. We were the ones who were stupid to think that incoming talent would immediately produce, in ways they hadn’t yet in their young careers. We weren’t willing to give Paul’s dream the proper amount of time to come into fruition.

Well, Paul Fenton being the biggest asshole to strut through Xcel Energy Center since Marion Gaborik, might have affected his longevity in Minnesota, too…

Billy Guerin embracing this organization with his stern, but fatherly love over the past few months, probably has a lot to do with the looseness the Wild are playing with, as well. That’s before we even get into the coaching change.

So, let’s give Paul Fenton his due. He knew what we didn’t about Kevin Fiala. But, we shouldn’t feel regret for the relatively quick trigger Craig Leipold pulled, when he moved on from Fenton, just 14 months after he first hired him.

There is a reason why the Nashville Predators cherished Paul Fenton so much. He clearly knows his hockey and he knows talent. He proved that in the short time he was here, and we’ll probably see it continue to unfold before our eyes…

Paul Fenton is that rebound girlfriend who was meant to be. She came in, straightened out your life a little bit and was definitely right about a few of the things she pointed out (boldly) while you were together…… but, she was kind of a bitch and even looking back now, that toxic relationship was never going to last much longer than it did.

Billy is our future. He’s the man we never knew we needed, until he was here…. but we should start looking back a little more fondly on what Paul Fenton did for this franchise.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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