Another week, another trade target. However, this time, let’s focus mostly on the player and not the return. Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala has been on the minds of a lot of New Jersey Devils fans and on the tongues of a lot of rumor analysts.
More than a week ago, Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek reported the Devils have expressed interest in acquiring the talents of an impact player such as Fiala in exchange for their first-round pick.
The Devils have the picks and prospects to make a trade happen, but the bad news is that Fiala’s coming off a career year, so the cost for him will be greater than ever.
This past offseason, Fiala bet on himself and signed a one-year deal. He responded by playing all 82 games, logging 33 goals and 52 assists. Marek expects it will take quite the haul to acquire Fiala. Is giving up a haul, let alone a long-term deal, worth it.
It’s curious how Wild general manager Bill Guerin finds a way to keep Fiala unless they move Matt Dumba, Alex Goligoski, Cam Talbot, etc. While it’s unlikely they’ll retain Fiala, Guerin seems set on getting a big return, which should scare away Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald.
Giving up a lot for a player who will need a fat contract extension can be a risky move, and it’s one we’re not keen on. Even more importantly, coughing up long-term deals to guys coming off career years in a contract year is too risky a move. Too many times across all four major sports have the deals gone south.
To be fair, in the last two seasons, Fiala produced at a mid-to-high 60 points per game pace, so the 85 points aren’t out of left field. However, the Devils already have a winger who exploded during a contract year, Jesper Bratt.
Don’t get this wrong, we pegged Bratt to be a 60-point guy, and his totals this season aren’t a one-hit-wonder, but extending two wingers who do similar things, are similar sizes, and both balled out during their contract years is a significant risk for the Devils.
There’s no denying Fiala’s talent. Whichever team signs him will be getting a 65-to-70 point scorer, but if the Devils want to cough up a ton, do it for Sharks winger Timo Meier or Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk.
Like we said last week, the Devils should try their hardest to acquire Matthew Tkachuk. He offers goal-scoring, size, and physicality, something the Devils need if they want to win down the line.
Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg is another option as an unrestricted free agent, but him posting an 18.8 shooting percentage during a contract year is bad news.
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Long story short, we’re all for the Devils using their 2nd-overall pick or other pieces to acquire a talented winger, but Fiala isn’t the direction to head in.