ST. PAUL — Kevin Fiala and the Wild have finally struck a deal.
After a back-and-forth saga that threatened to continue into the upcoming training camp, the Wild announced Wednesday, Sept. 11, that Fiala has signed a two-year, $6 million contract. It will pay him $2.5 million in 2019-20 and $3.5 million in 2020-21.
Fiala, 23, had 13 goals and 26 assists last season, splitting time between the Wild and the Nashville Predators. He was acquired by the Wild in exchange for Mikael Granlund right before the trade deadline.
Sold to the fan base as a potential “gamebreaker” by former general manager Paul Fenton, Fiala struggled mightily with his consistency after the Feb. 25 trade, producing just 3 goals and 4 assists in 19 games with the Wild.
This short-term deal could be viewed as Fiala essentially betting on himself. Rather than locking himself into a long-term deal, he could be in line for a hefty pay day if he performs well over the next couple of seasons.
It is likely that Fiala will emerge as a top-six forward for the Wild, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he plays on the first line, at least at the start of this season.
Taken by the Predators with the No. 11 pick in the 2014 draft, Fiala has the potential to be a sniper in the league. He has 48 goals and 56 assists over his career. He also has some playoff experience, dating back to his time with the Predators. He became the sixth-youngest player in NHL history to appear in a postseason game on April 21, 2015 at the age of 18 years, 273 days.
It is unclear if Fiala will be at the Wild’s first practice of the season. That said, the fact that the contract situation is behind him, and the Wild, is a good sign moving forward.