With the trade deadline approaching by the minute, and the Vegas Golden Knights closing in on Mark Stone (they eventually got him, and are working on an extension now), David Poile made a move elsewhere, adding to Minnesota Wild GM Paul Fenton’s collection of former Predators/Milwaukee Admirals by sending Kevin Fiala up north in exchange for forward Mikael Granlund.
Granlund was the Wild’s second leading scorer, with 49 points (15 goals, 34 assists) through 63 games. Kevin Fiala had 32 points (ten goals, 22 assists) through 64 games, and had been prey to a lot of bad puck luck.
In terms of on-ice results, the two players have some uncanny similarities:
Mikael Granlund (to Nasvhille) is very good offensively at both 5v5 and 5v4, a decent shot, a good penalty killer, with a good penalty differential, and ok defensively. Keven Fiala (to Minnesota) is better offensively at 5v5 and slightly weaker at 5v4 but otherwise similar. pic.twitter.com/9PYMqXDt0S— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) February 25, 2019
Of course, the big differences are how they get those results and—maybe even more so—their contract statuses. Fiala is a 22-year-old who will be a restricted free agent this summer. Granlund turns 27 tomorrow and is under contract until next summer with a cap hit of $5.75 million.
Granlund is weaker in transition than Fiala:
And, although it’s a small sample size from the games Corey Sznajder has tracked so far this season, looking at the last three years doesn’t make this aspect of the trade look better:
But once they get into the offensive zone, Granlund has been excellent as a playmaker in ways Fiala has not:
Granlund is well above league average in pre-shot puck movement, especially when it comes to the dangerous areas directly around the net. If this is Granlund, and not the Wild, this will benefit the Predators a lot, as they’ve struggled to create good pre-shot movement.
This is obviously a trade of potential for certainty—Granlund, a known quantity, has had two 60-point, 20-goal seasons at this point in his career (2016-17 and 2017-18), although he has not been on quite that pace this season. Fiala is more of an unknown quantity, playing in his second full NHL season.