Forward Kevin Fiala and the Minnesota Wild seem to be in an interesting spot right now. Rumours have been swirling about Fiala’s role on the team diminishing, and the possibility of a trade out of Minnesota no longer seems impossible. With him on a one-year deal with an average annual value (AAV) of $5.1 million, the Wild could look to move him out for a player or two, who fit their team better right away.
The Wild will want NHL-ready player(s) back in return, as the Wild are an excellent team that has the chance to make noise in the playoffs this season. They likely won’t be highly interested in picks and prospects being the central pieces of the return.
There’s no guarantee the Wild will look to move Fiala mid-season, but if they do, there are some teams that would make sense as trading partners for the organization.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs had a terrific month of November and have won 15 of their last 17 games. There might not be much urgency to make a trade, but it would likely be for a top-six winger if they had to make one.
A trade for Fiala could help fill some of the void left open when Zach Hyman left to join the Oilers in the offseason. If the Leafs are comfortable trying Fiala on the left wing, he could find a spot beside Matthews and Marner; not a bad couple of players to be playing alongside.
The Leafs are tight against the salary cap; however, there are NHL players the Leafs might be willing to consider moving if they could acquire Fiala. Nick Ritchie ($2.5 mill), Justin Holl ($2.0 mill), Ilya Mikheyev ($1.645 mill), Travis Dermott ($1.5 mill), and Pierre Engvall ($1.25 mill) are all NHL players the Leafs could be willing to move.
A combination of a couple of those players plus picks or a prospect could even out the salary and value of the trade. It could give the Wild some quality depth to the lineup while giving the Leafs a skilled winger to play in their top-six.
San Jose Sharks
The Wild could use another centre in their lineup, and the San Jose Sharks would love to add a young skilled player with team control moving forward. It almost seems like a match made in heaven that both teams have what the other one wants.
The Sharks could be forced to trade centre Tomas Hertl before the trade deadline to eliminate the risk of having him walk for nothing this upcoming offseason. If traded to Minnesota, he could create a nice 1-2 punch up the middle with Joel Eriksson Ek. His best season came in 2018-19, where he had 35 goals and 39 assists in 77 games.
He has the speed and skill to play with someone like Kirill Kaprizov, and he fits a style of hockey the Wild have been trying to achieve. It’s tough to say if this could be a one-for-one trade, and the Wild might struggle to retain his services beyond this season with all the dead-cap space they will be forced to deal with moving forward.
However, if the Wild honestly believe this is a year they can contend for a cup, Hertl might be one of the individual players the Wild could get in return for Fiala.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils are a young team on the rise and would probably love to add a player like Fiala to their lineup. Their offseason additions of Dougie Hamilton, Tomas Tatar, and Jonathan Bernier have paid off well, but they likely still are a year or two away from being a team expected to make the playoffs every season.
Fiala would be a welcomed addition to the win on the top-six, almost certainly getting a chance to play with either Nico Hischier or Jack Hughes. The Devils have more than enough cap space not only to take on Fiala’s contract right now but likely extend him in the offseason without much hassle.
Again though, we return to the fact that the Wild will likely want at least some return in the form of NHL calibre players in this deal. Someone like Yegor Sharangovich could be intriguing to the Wild at a reasonable cap hit for this season and next.
Both Jesper Bratt and Pavel Zacha are also pending restricted free agents with a significant cap hit, but it would be extremely tough to see them moved for just Fiala. The Devils package could also include some picks and prospects the Wild could then flip for an NHL player from another team.
There is still by no means any guarantee the Wild will move Fiala at all. The Wild are off to a tremendous start to the season and might not want to risk changing anything at all. Still, this is something floating around the rumour mill as of late, and it’s interesting to explore the possibilities that might be if the Wild do decide that moving Fiala is in everyone’s best interest.
Sports writer covering the Minnesota Wild. Graduated with a degree in sport media, also working with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.