The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is coming to a conclusion and as teams become eliminated, the speculation about roster transformation begins. As we know, the New York Islanders will be subjects of "hockey trades" this summer according to GM Lou Lamoriello. As far as roster transformation, the Minnesota Wild will have work to do this summer including Kevin Fiala, and the Islanders could be the solution to their problem.
Via 32 Thoughts Podcast, Jeff Marek and Elliot Freidman speculate whether or not the Wild will be able to lock down Fiala as part of their future plans. Wild GM Bill Guerin will have a number of contracts to renew, including the possibility of re-signing Marc-Andre Fleury. The Wild only have Cam Talbot signed past this season in net and will likely want to retain Fleury after trading for him at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline.
Fiala is set to become a restricted free agent. His qualifying offer will be $5.1 million and although he'll likely want a raise after an 85-point season, even the qualifying offer could be too rich for Guerin and the Wild. The buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are set to increase a whopping $8 million from $4,743,588 to $12,743,588 combined, so with some heavy cap hits like Kirill Kaprizov's $9 million and Jared Spurgeon's $7.575 million, there may be no room to retain Fiala.
Fiala tallied 33 goals and 52 assists in 2021-22. Normally, it would cost a lot to trade for a player after a career year, but the Wild may not be at the liberty to take on too much for a player who is due for a payday. Anthony Beauvillier has been the subject of trade chatter all season long, however, his $4.15 million cap hit may be too rich for the Wild who will have just $3,533,912 in cap space this summer. That also excludes Josh Bailey's $5 million cap hit. However, if a deal were to come to fruition there's a way to work things out for both sides.
The Islanders are locked in at 13th overall in the upcoming 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Given how aggressive Lamoriello has already been, it feels likely that he'll use the pick in a "hockey trade" to immediately improve the roster. So the Islanders could send the Wild the 13th overall pick and Beauvillier. To make the money work and fill multiple needs for the Islanders, they will receive Fiala and Alex Goligoski. Goligoski's cap hit will decrease from $5 million to $2 million this summer and remain there for the next two seasons. There is the obstacle that Goligoski holds a no-movement clause, but if Lamoriello and Guerin could make it work, Goligoski could be convinced to wave it. The Islanders immediately fill their need of a top line scorer and a cheap bottom pairing defensman to play with Scott Mayfield, killing two birds with one stone.
"I think the Fiala deal will be a whopper. Sounds to me very much like a draft day trade, but I don't think it's going to be for anybody that has much, if any, salary attached. This sounds like a picks and prospects trade."- Jeff Marek
The Wild may want to go cheaper than Beauvillier, so they could start with the Islanders13th overall draft pick and attach a young player or prospect in negotiations. Oliver Wahlstrom will certainly be of interest as an NHL-ready player with only $894,167 against the cap. If the Islanders aren't privy to parting with Wahlstrom, Kieffer Bellows could be the next best answer in the eyes of the Wild to jump right in on the wing. Bellows is already making an impact for Team USA at the IIHF World Championships and could make for an intriguing young player that the Wild can insert to their lineup at a cheap cost. Plus, who doesn't love the idea of Bellows following in his father, Brian's, footsteps to Minnesota? Packaging one of Wahlstrom or Bellows with the Islanders 2022 first round draft pick could intrigue Guerin who has proven he's not afraid to make a deal. Add a B-level prospect such as William Dufour or Samuel Bolduc and the Islanders could have their first-line winger.
Both the Islanders and the Wild have needs and appear to be the right fit for each other in terms of fulfilling them. Fiala will certainly draw a lot of interest from teams around the NHL, but Lamoriello has put himself on the hot seat and should be first in line to knock down the Wild's door. Fiala fits right in with the core of the Islanders going into his age 26 season, so it makes sense to acquire the pending restricted free agent and sign him up to remain with the Islanders' core long-term.