ST. PAUL, Minnesota — Kevin Fiala and Bill Guerin, general manager of Minnesota Wild, both said they remain uncertain about the attacker’s future with the organization.
Fiala set NHL career highs in goals (33), assists (52) and points (85) in 82 games, but could become a limited free agent after the season. He played this season on a $5.1 million one-year contract that he signed on August 16 that avoided a salary arbitration hearing scheduled for the following day.
“There is uncertainty,” Guerin said on Tuesday. “I mean, we’d love to have Kevin back. I don’t know if it will be possible. But we need to dig into it a little bit and see what we can do. But there’s uncertainty. That’s a good word for it.”
The Wild has issues with the NHL salary cap to work through, in part due to forward contract buyouts Zach Parise and defender Ryan Suter in 2021, plus new contracts over the past two seasons for forwards Joel Eriksson Ek† Kirill Kaprisov† Marcus Foligno and Jordan Greenway† There is also the hope of signing goalkeeper Marc-Andre Fleurywho can become an unrestricted free agent, making fitting into a new contract difficult for Fiala.
“It’s just where we are,” Guerin said. “We’ve got this empty cap hits [for Parise and Suter]† That is it. We’re going to work on it. I think next year we will be just as good.
“Would we like to have that cap space? Of course we would. But we knew exactly what we were doing. We knew exactly what position we were in. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Fiala scored 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists) in his last 13 games in the regular season, but had three assists in six games in the Wild’s loss to the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the Western Conference.
“I did my best, tried to get it going,” Fiala said Monday. “You know, play-offs are play-offs. You can’t score every game and make points. There are so many other things you have to do.
“Yes, six-game play-offs and of course I have to get better, I have to analyze and the next play-offs are definitely better. But I had a great season in the regular season. [but] because of the playoffs I wouldn’t just knock myself down. Want to forget, but not forget. You don’t want to forget it. Even if it [stunk], you have to keep it in your head and know what’s coming next year and analyze and get better next year. But still, you get the positive out of the whole picture, out of the whole season.”
Guerin said Fiala’s battle for the playoffs was ill-timed, but said the attacker’s 186 points (79 goals, 107 assists) in 215 games over the past four seasons with the Wild show how valuable he is.
“Look, we can do anything,” Guerin said on Tuesday. “But at what cost?”
Fiala also said on Monday that he wasn’t sure what his future held.
“There is no other answer than we shall see,” he said. “I don’t know. We just lost and there has been no conversation” [had] yet and not in these two days, so we’ll see.”