The Minnesota Wild have traded the rights to pending restricted free agent Kevin Fiala to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for the Kings 2022 first-round pick and prospect Brock Faber, per Michael Russo of The Athletic. According to Elliotte Friedman, this trade also includes a contract extension for Fiala which will come in around $7.9 million annually on what is believed to be a seven-year deal.
Fiala is coming off of the best season of his NHL career, recording career-high marks in games played (82), goals (33), assists (52) and points (85). Though Fiala has been a good player throughout his time with the Nashville Predators and Wild, this was undoubtedly a breakout season that blew his previous production out of the water in every regard.
A good puck-moving forward, Fiala should immediately slot into the top six for the Kings, skating alongside either Anze Kopitar or Phillip Danault. There will also be a lot of discussion about Fiala’s breakout season and how it was due to him playing alongside Kirill Kaprizov in Minnesota. JFresh on Twitter immediately put that to rest by pointing out that Fiala only played 88 total minutes at five-on-five alongside Kaprizov, accounting for just 5.5% of his season total.
Kings and Wild Both Get Solid Return
For the Kings, this nets them an elite and efficient scorer who generates chances for his team at a high clip. The soon-to-be 26-year-old will immediately raise both the floor and the ceiling of the Kings who have spent the last few years accumulating high-end talent via the draft. Moving on from a mid-first round pick a prospect to land a talent like Fiala is solid asset management, even if it may be deemed a lot in the moment.
For the Wild, this deal lands them an additional first-round pick as well as a defensive prospect who will fill an area of need in the Wild prospect pool. Faber was selected 45th overall by the Kings in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and is now the captain of the University of Minnesota. A right-shot defender with elite skating ability, Faber could very well have an NHL future. The offensive numbers (three goals and 26 points in 59 games across two seasons) may not jump off the page and that tends to not bode well for players looking to make the jump to the NHL, but his defensive ability, skating, high-compete level and solid puck-movement suggest he’s an NHL-caliber player in the making, perhaps even with top-four potential.
Moving a player like Fiala, especially after the season he just put together, is never easy. The Wild were backed up against a wall due to the salary cap and were able to collect a very strong haul for his signing rights. They’ll also get a chance to monitor Faber up close during this upcoming collegiate season as he enters his first year as captain of the Gophers.
This deal also gives the Wild four top 56-picks in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, including the 19th, 24th, 47th and 56th overall selections. Whether they’ll use all four to try and bolster their prospect pool or make a move to replace some of Fiala’s production is anyone’s guess.
The offseason is just starting and big moves are already being made. It wouldn’t be surprising to see more action coming out of both of these teams as they look to find balance between playoff contention in 2022 and long-term development and success. Both the Wild and Kings made the playoffs this past season and both will undoubtedly be aiming to keep their teams in that position next season.
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Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for seven years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.