Wild Trade Kevin Fiala To The Kings
Cap Friendly reports the 25-year-old winger also signed a seven-year contract with the Kings worth an annual average value of $7.875 million. The deal includes a full no-movement clause that begins in 2023-24 through 2025-26, becoming a modified no-trade clause from 2026-27 through the remainder of the deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt anyone’s surprised the Wild traded Fiala. Completing a one-year, $5.1 million contract, his career-best 85-point performance put the restricted free agent in line for a significant raise. However, the Wild couldn’t afford it with over $12 million in dead cap space from last year’s buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter biting into their cap room for 2022-23.
Fiala will likely become the Kings’ first-line left wing skating alongside center Anze Kopitar and right wing Adrian Kempe. He could also skate on their second line with center Phillip Danault and right winger Viktor Arvidsson. He’ll be expected to provide a boost to a Kings’ offense whose 2.87 goals-per-game average ranked 20th overall and a powerplay percentage (16.1) that was 27th overall.
Despite Fiala’s impressive stats this season, it remains to be seen if he’s truly elevated his play to the next level. His previous career-best was a 54-point effort in 62 games during the 2019-20 season before it was ended by COVID-19. If his play regresses, the Kings will have an expensive mistake on their hands. On the other hand, it could be money well-spent if he performs up to expectations.
The move leaves the Kings with nearly $12 million in cap space with 16 players under contract for 2022-23. Kempe, Michael Anderson and Sean Durzi are their notable restricted free agents, with Kempe due for a big raise himself after a career-high 35-goal performance this season.
As for the Wild, they now have two picks in the first round (19th and 24th overall) and a promising blueliner in the 19-year-old Faber, who spent this season with the University of Minnesota. The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler ranked him seventh among Kings prospects during his 2022 ranking of their prospect pool. He believed Faber had the makings of “a very effective, three-zone five-on-five player.”
The Wild still has limited salary-cap space, with just $6.6 million remaining and 19 players signed for next season. It’s believed they hope to bring back goalie Marc-Andre Fleury next season but that could require shedding a salary to make it happen. They’ll also have to find someone to replace Fiala’s offense. That won’t be easy given their salary limitations.
This trade could signal the start of a potentially active trade market leading up to the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal on July 7 and 8. Some clubs could attempt to wheel and deal before the opening round next Thursday.