With the Minnesota Wild’s top line receiving their season grades, it’s time to move on to the second line. First up, will be the second-leading scorer on the team, Kevin Fiala. He had a very up and down season with spurts of great play and then bouts of below-average play. Towards the second half of the season, however, it seemed like he flipped a switch and started scoring in bunches.
Fiala’s streak carried him almost to the end of the regular season as he finished with 33 goals and 52 assists for 85 points. He, like Ryan Hartman, played in all 82 games of the season and is now second amongst all Wild players in franchise history for points. While the regular season went well overall for him, the postseason was a whole other story.
Fiala has a Career Year
Fiala came with very high expectations when he joined the Wild back in 2018-19. However, over the last few seasons, he had trouble taking that next step in his development. He had decent seasons but nothing spectacular or what fans had come to expect when he first showed up. This season changed all that. It took a little while, but once he found chemistry with Matt Boldy, things changed.
Fiala finally had someone that could keep up with him and make those passes that no one else could make happen when on his line. When he had his success streak start so did his center, Frederick Gaudreau. It seemed like the whole line picked up its play, they just needed the right chemistry. Fiala doubled his points from last season as well as having his first season with over 30 goals and over 50 assists.
Fiala’s power-play points were slightly less than last season but he upped his game-winning goals to seven. He also took 100 more shots than he did last year, as he went from 162 shots to 262 shots this season which explains a lot of his scoring success.
Fiala Falters in the Postseason
Despite having a great regular season that involved career-highs, when it came to the postseason, it seemed like Fiala hit a brick wall. He wasn’t playing with the same level of confidence he had prior to the playoffs. He did get three points, all assists but couldn’t find the back of the net for any goals himself. He was expected to be right alongside Kirill Kaprizov, but sadly that didn’t happen.
Obviously, Fiala’s play wasn’t fun for him, but it affected his whole team as well. The blame shouldn’t lie solely on him, as his entire team struggled with the exception of a few standout performances. However, if he’d been able to find his game, along with Kaprizov’s play, that could’ve been enough to motivate the rest of the team to get past the St. Louis Blues in the first round. He had 15 shots on the net which was about average but needed to be better, especially on the power play.
Fiala’s Final Grade
With Fiala, it was difficult to give him a final grade. Even with his struggle in the postseason, he deserved a decent grade for all the work he did during the regular season and those efforts carried him through. His defensive stats can’t be forgotten either, as he had 21 blocked shots throughout the season, and also had 52 hits which gave him another career-high.
With everything Fiala did this season and factoring in his postseason, his final grade is a B+, just shy of an A-. As stated before, his great performance prior to the playoffs got him most of his grade, but he had to be docked some for his lack of production in the postseason. His team really needed him to step up and he couldn’t find that extra gear. It’s unclear why he had so much trouble but the majority of the team seemed unmotivated. It turned out they were missing something despite seemingly having all the pieces to succeed in the playoffs.
Fiala’s Future Uncertain in Minnesota
It’s been stated several times this offseason, that with the salary cap constraints and Fiala becoming a restricted free agent this summer, things will become difficult for the Wild. Of course, everyone would love for him to stay and see if he can redeem himself in a possible playoff run next season, but it’s unclear if that’s even possible moneywise.
The Wild have a number of other players who have contracts expiring and they don’t have the money to be able to sign them all. It’ll be interesting to see what direction they go in and who will be here when the puck drops next season and who will move on to a new adventure with another team. They have a very tight group of players but they’re also all professionals who understand that it’s business first and foremost and they have to do what’s in the best interest of the team and its future.
Wild fans may or may not see Fiala in a Wild jersey next season but regardless of where he lands, hopefully, he can have as great a season as he did this year and an even better postseason. He earned the B+ and had he gotten a few more points in the playoffs, it’s possible he could’ve had the A-. Regardless, he had a great regular season and everyone will just have to wait and see what happens this offseason.
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Mariah Stark (Holland) is a contributing Minnesota Wild writer for THW. She’s been covering the Wild at THW since October of 2020 and specializes in game takeaways and weekly check-ins. She is always looking for different angles to cover the Wild and dig deeper into the stories surrounding the team to help fans connect on a more personal level and to keep an eye on the latest follow her on Twitter @MariahEStark.