Kevin Fiala has been a name in the rumor mill for some time in the NHL. Mainly this is to do with the fact that he is a big player on a team that was rebuilding. Now, they’re not rebuilding, and the Minnesota Wild looks like a very good team out in the west. Yet, there’s always some uncertainty with Fiala. Being on a one-year deal, there’s not exactly a lot of trust between the two parties involved here.
With the Wild contending in the Central right now, Fiala would likely have to be an off-season acquisition. That’s not to say it wouldn’t be possible to get him during the year, it’s just far more likely he’ll be on the block when it comes to negotiations this summer when he becomes a restricted free agent. Which, admittedly, is a scary thought seeing as Carolina doesn’t exactly have the best track record of signing their RFA’s.
Fiala is a Swiss-born winger with a 20 goal ceiling and a 50 point top end. While it’s not bad, that’s not exactly top-end numbers. He’s an ideal player for the middle six. He can be flashy, and he can get the puck in the net. He’s got a good shot, and he’s a fast skater. He found great success in the NHL with multiple organizations now, so we know he’s able to slot into a lineup given the right situation.
So, why do I bring up this player for the Hurricanes to pursue? Well, the Carolina Hurricanes forward core at this point in time will not be the same core that lines up when the team takes to the ice at the start of next year. It’s just not going to be the same, because that’s what the salary cap is designed to do to teams. It’s not possible to keep everyone.
Vincent Trocheck, Derek Stepan, and Nino Niederreiter are unrestricted free agents. Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Martin Necas are restricted free agents. Those are just the forwards. Half of the D core will need new deals too. Not everyone will leave, but not everyone will stay, and there will need to be some new blood in the lineup. This is where someone like Fiala comes in.
Fiala can fill the holes left in the middle six. Carolina’s center depth will be tested, but Fiala isn’t a center. He’s more of a cure for the wingers that are expected to go missing in free agency. He could slot in on the second or third line, and be asked to play an offensive style of game with any number of players. He would improve the depth of the wings.
Acquiring Fiala isn’t the only difficult part of this deal. He’s likely going to cost a good center prospect and a high pick. I don’t know what those would be seeing that Carolina’s 1st round pick is currently in either Montreal or Arizona due to the brilliance of the Kotkaniemi offer-sheet this summer, but that’s not the point. Fiala would make a lot of sense here because of the issues in free agency.
As for the paycheck that Fiala would be looking for, he’s a restricted free agent with a qualifying offer of $5.1 million. You could probably get him to come down from that number a little bit if you offer him a multi-year deal, but that’s not a certainty. He’s a good player, and he likely ends up signing for something between 4.5-6 in the grand scheme of things.