It’s always painful to see a player be reassigned from a National Hockey League team training camp, especially one that wanted to make the club as bad as Nashville Predators prospect Kevin Fiala did. The Swiss forward was very hopeful about making the big club, but he was assigned to the Predators’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals.
Fiala, the 11th overall section in the 2014 Entry Draft, played one game in the 2014-15 regular season, and once in the Predators first-round playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks. He was very confident that he would make the Predators’ opening night roster.
However, being sent to Milwaukee might not be the worst thing in the world for Fiala, who scored 11 goals in 33 games with the Admirals after signing an entry-level deal with the Nashville organization after his performance for Switzerland at the 2014-15 World Junior Championships. This could be very beneficial to his development.
Fiala Showing Focus
The Swiss forward was looked at by some as one of the rookies not named Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel to make an impression this season. Fiala’s speed and playmaking ability are something that Predators fans are drooling over.
He was the sixth youngest player in history to play in the NHL postseason after he finished strong in the AHL. Fiala even stayed in Nashville since early June to prepare himself for training camp. He was really putting forth an effort to make the roster.
The talk surrounding the young forward is not if he’d make the Nashville roster, but when. Fiala has been called a special player and will be someone who will make a big impact on the big stage soon. Admirals coach Dean Evason told that to the On the Forecheck blog.
“When he first came [to North America], you certainly wouldn’t have thought ‘here’s a guy that is going to play NHL games,’ but he did last year,” said Evason. “His skill level is second-to-none and you see it every time he’s on the ice. He can do some amazing things.”
Fiala was one of several prospects that were trying to slug it out for the final roster spots along with Viktor Arvidsson, Colton Sissons, Austin Watson and others. Fiala netted a couple of assists and averaged 14:23 in ice time during four preseason games.
However, it seemed like Fiala was being overshadowed by the strong play of Arvidsson and there were really only three spots that seemed open at the start of camp. Fiala was assigned to Milwaukee on Saturday, but it’s not the end of the world.
The Plus of Playing Time
Making an opening night roster would’ve been a dream come true for Fiala, but he still needs time to develop. He can get that development by playing in live games for the Admirals. If Fiala may have made the opening roster, he may have been a healthy scratch and not gotten into games.
It’s usually more beneficial for a young player to get extended minutes in development than playing limited minutes or being on the sidelines with the big club.
Fiala has also matured more in the recent months since coming over to North America. He knows there’s a lot of pressure on him to live up the hype of being a high first-round draft pick.
The situation is comparable to that of Filip Forsberg, who spent part of the 2013-14 season in Milwaukee before he broke out last year. Forsberg benefited greatly from his time in the AHL, and Fiala can probably do the same. Fellow Predators writer Colin Fitts tweeted as much to me.
When Will It Be Fiala’s Time?
So when will Fiala finally make the Nashville roster? It may be sooner than people think. Poile still has a high opinion of the young forward despite the reassignment. He said as much to the media in a tweet posted by The Tennessean’s Adam Vingan.
David Poile last month of Kevin Fiala. pic.twitter.com/Ppzj7dDsQ8
— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) September 26, 2015
Fiala will get an opportunity on an NHL roster this season. The only question is when it will happen, and I’m betting this will happen soon. Fiala and Roman Josi could usher in the Swiss Guard of Nashville in the very near future.
If he takes advantage of the increased ice time in Milwaukee, he’ll be there sooner than you think.
What do you think? Will Kevin Fiala be on the Predators roster this season? If so, when? Leave your comments below.
Covered hockey since attending SUNY Oswego in Upstate New York in the early 2000s. Has written about college, major junior and professional hockey for the last five years.
Resides in Watertown, NY.