Wild trades Fiala to Kings for the first round player and Gophers’ Faber

One of the Wild’s best players isn’t coming back, and it was the team that sent him away.

Unable to afford a new contract for winger Kevin Fiala, the financially strapped Wild traded the 30-goal shooter to Los Angeles on Wednesday in exchange for a first-round draft pick and Gophers defenseman Brock Faber.

Fiala will reportedly receive a seven-year deal from the Kings, valued at around $55 million.

“We have no margin,” said general manager Bill Guerin, who knew the team would achieve that result with Fiala during the season. “Honestly to keep him we would have to trade three or two guys and drain your team more. Then we’ll be there even more the following year.

“It just didn’t fit.”

That math has been apparent for quite some time, making Fiala’s departure seem likely, if not inevitable.

A severe capital crisis has been brewing since the Wild bought Zach Parise and Ryan Suter last year, with the cost of the acquisitions escalating from about $4.7 million to nearly $13 million.

Add in the deals already on the books, and the Wild has limited spending power — less than $7 million this summer, to be precise. That kind of budget made it unrealistic to keep Fiala, especially considering the team are looking to sign goalkeeper Marc-Andre Fleury and defender Jake Middleton. The Wild should have pulled to stick with Fiala, a decision Guerin pointed out would have resulted in another hole in the list.

Of the core of the team, Fiala was the only player with an expiring contract and was still considered a restricted free agent after agreeing to a one-year, $5.1 million contract prior to last season.

But the savages still paid a heavy price for shipping Fiala, and that’s losing a dynamic striker in its prime.

“Kevin has really become a special player at Minnesota over the past few years,” said Guerin.

After a slow start to the season, the 25-year-old winger posted career bests on goals (33), assists (52) and points (85) while completing an impressive streak with rookie Matt Boldy and Frederick Gaudreau.

His 12-game point streak was the longest in franchise history, and Fiala set a team record with five assists in a game and four assists/points in one stint. He also had the second-most goals and points in the NHL from April 8 through the end of the regular season before providing three assists in six playoff games against St. Louis.

Overall, Fiala recorded 79 goals and 107 assists for 186 points in 215 games with the Wild. He has led organization across all three categories since joining the team in February 2019 in a trade that sent Mikael Granlund to Nashville.

When asked how Wild will replace Fiala’s offense, Guerin said, “We don’t know. We have to play the games and see how the guys produce. We might be able to. We do not know it.”

Los Angeles immediately expressed an interest in Fiala, Guerin said, and the Kings are serious in their pursuit.

Guerin didn’t feel the need to wait and believes he secured fair value with the deal. Los Angeles first pick is No. 19, with Guerin mentioning how hard it is for teams to give up high picks. Along with his own first at 24, the Wild has eight total picks in the draft, which begins next Thursday in Montreal.

The Wild adds Faber, a US National Team Development Program graduate who won a gold medal with the US team at the 2021 World Junior Championships and was drafted in the second round (45th overall) by the Kings in 2020.

The Maple Grove native, who was named captain of the Gophers on Wednesday, finished last season as a sophomore with two goals and 12 assists in 32 games and played in the Olympics.

“He’s looking forward to eventually playing for his home team,” said Guerin, who views Faber as a “high-end prospect” not far from the NHL.

Turning picks into pros will help the Wild survive its salary restrictions, which are getting tighter.

Fast-forward another year and the Parise and Suter acquisitions will eat up almost $15 million of the Wild’s two-season cap spot.

Time will tell how the team handles this pinch but their future no longer includes Fiala.

“We knew we just wouldn’t make it,” said Guerin. “We knew that. They knew that. There’s no point in just trying to… match this and that and give them a low-ball deal.” It will not work. We knew we had to move him. “