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Both Wild, Kings Come Out as Winners in Fiala Trade

The Wild and Kings made a swap on Wednesday. with Kevin Fiala being the main trade chip. Here's what the Kings are getting in Fiala, and why Wild fans should be excited about Faber.
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The first trade of the NHL's off-season already caused a big splash.

On Wednesday, the Wild traded Kevin Fiala to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for prospect Brock Faber and a first-round pick in the 2022 draft. Fiala, a pending RFA, signed an eight-year extension worth $7.9 million per season, a nice raise from the $5.1 million deal he signed last August.

The Kings were a game away from moving on the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but ultimately fell short against Edmonton. What happened, though, was the team showed some promise that the rebuild was going in the right direction, and that some tinkering along the way may have been all the group needed to build a truly competitive team. 

And without giving away a single roster player, the Kings played to their strengths, trade-wise, and got the piece really needed. 

Fiala is coming off of a 33-goal, 85-point season with the Wild, the best totals of his career. His previous best was a 54-point run in 2019-20, and he followed that up with 20 goals and 40 points in the COVID-19-shortened campaign the year after. After a bit of a rocky start to his career, Fiala has quickly evolved into a star winger, and one the Wild definitely wouldn't let get away if it wasn't for the team being so tight against the salary cap. 

They couldn't afford him, so at least they got something for him. More on that later.

Fiala instantly becomes one of Los Angeles' better wingers in the top six, a group that already features Viktor Arvidsson, Adrian Kempe and Trevor Moore, with Alex Turcotte, and Arthur Kaliyev -- among others -- still coming along. Throw in Anze Kopitar, Philip Danault and Quinton Byfield, and LA's offensive core is looking mighty fine right now.

Fiala instantly becomes one of Los Angeles' better wingers in the top six, a group that already features Viktor Arvidsson, Adrian Kempe and Trevor Moore, with Alex Turcotte, and Arthur Kaliyev -- among others -- still coming along. Throw in Anze Kopitar, Philip Danault and Quinton Byfield, and LA's offensive core is looking mighty fine right now.

Fiala's speed, shot and overall skill makes him a dangerous scoring threat every time he hits the ice. He played his best hockey alongside Kirill Kaprizov but proved before Kap's arrival that Fiala was trending in the right direction. So throwing him in with a young core with tons of promise -- while likely playing with a high-end center like Anze Kopitar -- is a huge steal for the Wild in the long run. At 25, Fiala is still young, and should still be playing some tremendous hockey near the end of his deal.

For the Wild, it's certainly a big loss offensively. Fiala was becoming one of the best forwards the team had ever had, but they didn't have the cap space to make it work. According to CapFriendly, the Wild have just $6.5-million in cap space, with Marc-Andre Fleury being the most notable UFA. It's likely he moves on anyways, but they'll have to address the goaltending situation somehow -- not to mention the lost offense. There's hope that Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi will take nice steps forward this year, but they're still young, and you can't expect too much from either just yet.

In Faber, the Wild are getting someone that instantly becomes one of the team's best defensive prospects, and someone familiar to the state of Minnesota. Born in Maple Grove, Faber played in his home state until joining the USNTDP in 2018-19. He has spent the past two years with the University of Minnesota and will serve as captain in 2022-23, his junior season.

Brock Faber

Brock Faber

One of Faber's biggest assets is his skating. He's got a great first stride and doesn't get pushed around much thanks to his great balance and footwork. As his career continues to evolve, Faber's offensive game has improved, and while he's not a huge point-producer, his decision-making on a rush has definitely taken some positive steps since his junior days.

Given his college status, Faber is at least another year away from turning pro. But Faber adds to a defensive future that includes Calen Addison and Carson Lambos. Faber should factor somewhere in the middle -- is he a top-pairing defenseman? Not at this point, but you'll get a steady presence elsewhere in the lineup. At the worst case, Faber becomes a trade chip down the line. Having two first-round picks puts the Wild in a nice position, so that could end up being just as valuable.

Pre-draft trades are always fun, especially when an 80-point player gets moved. Losing Fiala is a big blow for the Wild, but there's a promising future ahead after years of not having a ton to look forward to in the prospect pool. The Kings get someone who can further help speed the rebuild and make the team a true contender again, without having to give up too much of the team's future. The Kings have one of the best prospect groups in the league, so they could easily afford Fiala. For Minnesota, it opens up some flexibility, and, perhaps, suggests that Bill Guerin believes in the future.

So, a win-win for both, just in different ways.

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