It has come that time on the NHL calendar where hockey talk is on the back burners for most. News is few and far between, and as fans we latch onto any story we can.
Luckily we were treated with some exciting action over the weekend with Viktor Arvidsson’s new seven year deal. The fan favorite is now the longest tenured Predator as far as future contracts go.
Now we sit and wait on that Ryan Johansen mega deal which is around the corner.
Kevin Fiala's development into a top producing talent is just around the corner. After a breakout postseason that saw him completely take over Game 3 versus the Blackhawks in Round 1, fans finally caught the glimpse of the potential game breaking skill Fiala possesses put to use in a meaningful game.
Now the expectations are sky high, even coming off a broken femur suffered versus the Blues in round two.
Can Fiala take the next step in his progression? I think so.
When I began to dive into some data and see where I could find promise, I stumbled upon Viktor Arvidsson's 15-16 campaign, which was the year before his breakout 31 goal performance of this year. What I found was just how similar Arvidsson's 15-16 season was to Fiala's 16-17.
It is pretty interesting to see how similar all these numbers are. They played around the same amount of games in the same role that produced similar point totals and chances for.
Did you know that Arvidsson's 11.86 shots per sixty minutes led the Predators in that 15/16 campaign. That to me was the biggest sign a breakout was coming.
What is crazy is Fiala's 9.17 shot per sixty was actually second on the Predators this year, only behind Arvidsson, and even scarier he seems to be a more accurate shooter than Arvidsson with more goals on less shots.
In total, Fiala and Arvidsson are players that create a ton of chances for the Predators with their speed and skill. The numbers suggest Fiala could be in for a breakout year in similar fashion to Arvidsson's 16-17 season.
Prediction: Fiala 23 Goals, 27 Assists, 50 Points
Speaking of Viktor Arvidsson, I absolutely love his new seven year, $29.75 million dollar deal at a cap hit of $4.25 million.
Lots of people are nervous about his one year of goal production, which has led me to wonder when we will stop using the basic stats such as goals, assists, and points, and begin to adopt other advanced ones as painting the true picture to how well a player is playing.
The bottom line is Arvidsson’s 15/16 showed a player on the verge of a breakthrough with top six credentials while playing in a bottom six role.
That 11.86 shots per sixty minutes stat mentioned above left Arvidsson 3rd in the entire league for forwards who played a minimum of 500 minutes. He did not have the goal production because his shots were not falling, shooting only 5.5%. This year his shooting percentage went up, so the goals came.
Poile would not take a bet with long term if he did not believe in Arvidsson’s ability. He must also be using advanced analytics to see that while Arvidsson may have only one years worth of top level goal production, his elite skill of creating opportunities has been there since the call up in 15/16.
Look at the other comparable contracts to Arvidsson’s.
Arvidsson is definitely one of the best players of that group. Only JVR and Hornqvist have a 30 goal season like Arvidsson’s, and none of these players has ever cracked 60 points.
In five years we will be looking back at this deal and considering it a steal, as Arvidsson continues to pile up opportunities, goals, and highlight moments.
Well done David Poile, well done.
Conclusion: Arvidsson’s deal is a steal
The Minnesota Wild proved last season that regular season dominance does not equal postseason success in the NHL. Stumbling down the stretch into the playoffs,their year was the exact opposite as to how the Predators went.
And after a rough finish, the offseason has not been kind to the Wild either. While they were able to preserve their defensive core in the entry draft, it came at the cost of losing effective, bottom liner Eric Haula, and top prospect Alex Tuch.
They followed up by shipping defenseman Marco Scandella and overpaid Jason Pominville to the Sabres for Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno. This trade was all about shedding salary and the return was average.
All of this was in efforts to sign young stars Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund to big deals. What is left is a team that is certainly on paper worse than last year.
The core of this team is aging. There top two center pivots Eric Staal and Mikko Koivu are 32 and 34 years old. Their splash signings of what now seems like years ago, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, will be 34 and 32 when the season starts. And late blooming goalie Devan Dubnyk will be 31 when puck drops this fall.
The Wild only have a few opportunities left with this current group. And while it is not inconceivable to see a deep playoff run, this summer certainly leaves them worse than last. Something will have to give to change that.
Verdict: The Wild are trending down
How many Goals will Kevin Fiala score next season?
This poll is closed
25 or over
14 or below
Grade Viktor Arvidsson’s New Deal
This poll is closed