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Can the Wild Afford To Sign Kevin Fiala?

It's been a week since the Minnesota Wild were eliminated from postseason play. Since then, most of the media speculation about their off-season plans centers on whether they can afford to sign Kevin Fiala to a new contract.
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It's been a week since the Minnesota Wild were eliminated from postseason play. Since then, most of the media speculation about their off-season plans centers on whether they can afford to sign Kevin Fiala to a new contract.

Cap Friendly shows Fiala completing a one-year, $5.1-million deal, becoming a restricted free agent on July 13 with arbitration rights. The 25-year-old winger is due for a significant raise coming off a career-best 85-point performance, perhaps over $7-million annually on a long-term deal. 

The Wild has $75.1 million invested in 18 players for 2022-23. They must also re-sign RFA defenseman Jacob Middleton and sign or replace goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who's slated to become an unrestricted free agent. Complicating matters is their $12.7 million in dead cap space for next season as a result of buying out Zach Parise and Ryan Suter last summer.

The Athletic's Michael Russo wondered if general manager Bill Guerin will trade Fiala should he prove too expensive to retain. He speculated Guerin would want a first-round pick and prospects if he puts the winger on the trade block, suggesting the Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils as two clubs that could use an impact forward.

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman mentioned the Los Angeles Kings as a destination given their depth in affordable young talent. However, he noted that some teams feel Guerin will find a way to sign Fiala.

That seems doubtful unless Guerin attempts to move someone like Matt Dumba to free up cap room for Fiala's new contract. The 27-year-old defenseman is a year away from UFA status and carries an annual salary-cap hit of $6 million. He's frequently surfaced in trade rumors over the past two years.

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