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Kings Get Fiala, Could Islanders Have Offered More?

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Kevin Fiala
Kevin Fiala (Photo-via Minnesota Wild Twitter)

The New York Islanders need to make upgrades to their forward group this offseason and president and general manager Lou Lamoriello stated that he would be looking to make “hockey trades” to get that done. It was no secret that the Minnesota Wild were going to be unable to offer restricted free agent Kevin Fiala the money he deserved, and although there was no concrete evidence to suggest the Islanders were players in the Kevin Fiala Sweepstakes, the 25-year-old is no longer a potential option.

Per The Athletic’s Michael Russo, the Minnesota Wild traded Kevin Fiala’s rights to the Los Angeles Kings, in exchange for their 2022 first-round pick (19) and prospect Brock Faber, who was drafted 45th overall in 2020.

The Los Angeles Kings shared the news shortly after.

Upon being acquired by the Los Angeles Kings, they agreed to terms on a seven-year extension worth $7.9 million annually per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Freidman and TSN’s Chris Johnson.

Kevin Fiala posted offensive career-highs with 33 goals, 52 assists, and 85 points in 2022-23 and was in for a payday.

If the New York Islanders were players in the Fiala sweepstakes, what got in their way?

The New York Islanders hold the 13th overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, an upgrade over the 19th pick the Los Angeles Kings have to offer. So it’s unlikely that the pick was the issue.

Now let’s look at the prospect the Wild acquired.

Brock Faber, 19, is a native of Minnesota and is getting set for his junior season at the University of Minnesota. Just a few hours before the trade went down, Faber was named a captain for the 2022-23 season. This past season, the defenseman scored two goals with 12 assists in 32 regular-season games.

Per Russo, the Wild were slim at defense in their prospect pool.

The Islanders have a few defensive prospects, such as Robin Salo and Samuel Bolduc. But Salo, given his stint with New York this past season, seems like a player that can have a significant role in 2022-23 while Bolduc, who missed time with an injury in 2021-22, could have a bright future.

With Zdeno Chara and Andy Greene no longer on the Islanders roster, there is already a need for defense, so trading away defensive prospects does not seem like an ideal scenario. Again, this is merely speculation, but if the Wild wanted defense, we could see why the Islanders had to stop playing the game.

Fellow Islanders journalist Kevin Kurz wrote a story about Kevin Fiala and the Islanders prior, discussing how the Islanders could get the player, maybe parting ways with an Oliver Wahlstrom and the 13th pick. He also shared why trading Anthony Beauvillier would not work, as the whole point of moving Kevin Fiala was to clear cap space, without bringing in much, if any.

Before being dealt, Kevin Fiala would have to agree to a long-term extension with his new team. Obviously, Fiala had already spoken to Los Angeles Kings general manager Rob Blake on an extension before Blake agreed to the move. Did Fiala not want to commit seven years to being on the island? Did conversations even get that far? Were there even conversations?

The New York Islanders, as of today, technically had the salary-cap space to sign Fiala to the same deal he signed in LA. The Islanders currently have $12 million in space. The issue would have been after signing Fiala, which would have left the Islanders with just $4.1 million in space, with defenseman Noah Dobson in need of a deal, which would likely cost slightly over that ($4.5 million). Lamoriello would need to move a contract or two to make this move work, a move that would limit the acquisition of a top-four defenseman as well.

Regardless, what’s done is done and the New York Islanders faithful will have to wait patiently to see what Lou Lamoriello is cooking up as we are nine days away from the 2022 NHL Draft.

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