The NHL off-season has officially begun.
The Minnesota Wild got the ball rolling on what is sure to be a busy summer across the league, trading the rights to forward Kevin Fiala to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for prospect Brock Faber and the club's first-round pick in the 2022 draft.
According to Elliotte Friedman, Fiala inked an eight-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $7.9-million. The details of the agreement, such as its salary structure or the inclusion of any trade protection, have yet to be revealed.
This was a difficult move for the Wild to make, but a necessary one.
Fiala, who was a pending restricted free agent at the time of the trade, is coming off a phenomenal season just as he needed a new deal, as the 25-year-old racked up 33 goals and 85 points in 82 games for the Wild in 2021-22.
Under normal circumstances, Fiala is a player that organizations would hold on to for dear life. But the Wild's cap situation is anything but normal, thanks to the buyout penalties of both Ryan Suter and Zack Parise that kick in in earnest this season and account for over $12.7 million in dead money on the team's books. That distinct lack of wiggle room caused by two players who aren't even employed by the team anymore effectively prevents the Wild from retaining any high-end talent looking for a pay raise. Fiala's incredible season has earned him the right to cash in. So, the Wild sent him to a team with the ability to pay him what he's worth.
And that's exactly what the Kings did.
Getting a first-round pick and a prospect in return, however, softens the blow a bit.
The Wild now hold the 19th and 24th overall picks in this year's draft -- assets that can be used to either start replenishing the organization's prospect cupboard or as trade chips to acquire cheap young talent and replace that which they just lost.
Faber is also a nice piece to add, too. The 19-year-old defenseman was a second-round pick of the Kings' in 2020 and currently serves as the captain of the University of Minnesota men's hockey team, having just racked up two goals and 12 assists for 14 points in his sophomore season.
The first domino to fall was a big one. And it certainly won't be the last.