NHL Rumor Mill – April 20, 2022
CAN THE WILD AFFORD FIALA?
TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani reports Kevin Fiala’s bet on himself last summer by signing a one-year, $5.1 million contract with the Minnesota Wild should pay off handsomely with a new lucrative deal following this season. Whether it’s with the Wild or another club remains to be seen.
Fiala has taken his game to a higher level this season with a career-best performance of 30 goals, 45 assists and 75 points in 76 games. The 25-year-old winger is a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights and could seek between $7 million and $8 million annually.
The Wild, however, face a significant salary-cap crunch for 2022-23 as last summer’s buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will eat up over $12.7 million in cap space next season, followed by $14.7 million in dead cap space for 2023-24 and 2024-25. It’ll be nearly impossible for the Wild to retain Fiala under those financial constraints.
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo also believes it’s “damn near impossible to find a way that Fiala won’t be jettisoned this offseason.” Nevertheless, he felt they must find a way or they’ll end up regretting it. Russo suggested trading oft-injured defenseman Matt Dumba, but he’s one of the team’s leaders and is well-regarded by Wild general manager Bill Guerin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe Guerin will ship out Dumba, though his $6 million cap hit through next season and 10-team no-trade list will complicate such efforts. Perhaps the Wild GM will surprise us by coming up with something creative to create the necessary cap space to keep Fiala in the fold.
Otherwise, this will be Fiala’s final season with the Wild. They’ll either trade him to a club willing to pay him whatever he wants before the arbitration filing period. Perhaps he’ll do a sign-and-trade to a club willing to take on his new contract. Fiala’s play this season ensures he’ll have considerable value in this summer’s trade market, which should translate into a solid (and affordable) return of promising talent for the Wild.
CAN THE LEAFS AFFORD MIKHEYEV?
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently mused over the potential cost for the Toronto Maple Leafs to re-sign Ilya Mikheyev. A versatile hard-working forward, the 27-year-old can hang among the top six or boost the bottom six of a contender. He has 18 goals and 28 points in 48 games this season.
Mikheyev is completing a two-year contract with a $1.645 million annual cap hit and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in July. Fox speculates he could get between $4 million and $5 million annually on the open market.
Despite making a trade request last summer, Mikheyev’s agent said his client was more frustrated with his own play and wasn’t unhappy with the Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Mikheyev’s willing to accept under $4 million to remain in Toronto, it’s unlikely he’ll be back with the Leafs next season. Cap Friendly shows them with over $73 million tied up in 15 active players for next season with goaltender Jack Campbell also eligible for UFA status and RFA defenseman Rasmus Sandin due for a raise coming out of his entry-level deal.