Through 20 games, it’s safe to say that Kevin Fiala has been one of the bigger disappointments for the Nashville Predators so far.
With only nine points to his name, including only two goals, Fiala is not looking anything like the 23-goal, 48-point breakout star we saw last year. His shot attempt share isn’t bad, pushing a 51.7 percentage in 246 even strength minutes, but for a scoring winger, production is everything.
To this end, the Predators are reaching the point where it’s becoming a problem. They may have to do something soon about Fiala’s declining production.
But what can they do? They are running out of options.
They’ve already tried the “send a message” approach with Fiala. They’ve demoted him to a bottom six role frequently this season, and even benched him late in Saturday’s game against the Kings. But this sort of move only makes things worse for a player like Fiala, who really needs to play with higher quality teammates to bring out his skills.
The lines from today’s morning skate indicate they are still trying this approach, but I’m not sure playing with guys like Gaudreau and Salomaki is likely to solve his production problem.
#Preds a.m. skate rushes:
— Brooks Bratten (@brooksbratten) November 19, 2018
The second option is a trade. The Predators could package Fiala along with another of their prospects for a better long term scoring option. The problem is that Fiala’s value is too low to factor much into the trade. They would almost certainly have to package Fiala with one of their higher valued prospects (Tolvanen, Fabbro) in order to get a decent return.
I don’t see many teams lining up for Fiala at this point, but there could be a few budget conscious teams willing to take on his entry level cap hit in exchange for the upside. The Devils, Islanders, and Canadiens all stand out as teams with room on their rosters for a low-risk, high-reward player like Fiala.
If a player-for-player trade doesn’t work out, the Preds might have to settle for moving Fiala for a lower end draft pick. They did this last year with Pontus Aberg, sending him to Edmonton for a 4th round draft pick. If the Preds get desperate, I can’t see Fiala fetching much more than a 3rd or 4th round pick himself.
The nuclear option is to simply waive Fiala and hope he isn’t claimed (unlikely). But if it ever comes to that, his days in Nashville are probably over.
In the end, the Predators are probably going to continue doing what they’ve done for the last month and a half: keep waiting.
GIF Me That Good Stuff
Calle Jarnkrok scored three goals on Saturday night, including this game winner:
Huge goal, huge night from Calle Jarnkrok. #Preds
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) November 18, 2018
This Week’s Numbers
- 25 – the minimum number of games Viktor Arvidsson could miss this season if he sits out for 8 weeks due to his broken thumb (the original prognosis was 6-8 weeks).
- 381 – the number of games it took for Calle Jarnkrok to get his first NHL hat trick. (11/17/18 vs. LAK)
- 105 – the number of games it took for Filip Forsberg to get his first NHL hat trick (4/23/15 vs. CHI)
- 1 – the number of wins needed for Pekka Rinne to tie Miikka Kiprusoff for all-time NHL wins by a Finnish born goalie.
Let’s Do That Hockey
Monday 11/19 – 7:00 PM: Predators vs. Lightning [FS-TN]
Wednesday 11/21 – 7:00 PM: Predators vs. Blues [FS-TN]
Friday 11/23 – 7:00 PM: Predators @ Blues [FS-TN]
Sunday 11/25 – 7:00 PM: Predators vs. Ducks [FS-TN]
This week’s final thought is on the Austin Watson incident and how the Predators have essentially moved on from the problem itself. I decided to make this thought into its own post, so you can check it out over here.
— Featured image via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports —