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Predators trade Kevin Fiala to Minnesota Wild in exchange for Mikael Granlund

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This isn’t any of the trades we were hoping for, but it’s the trade that happened.

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Toronto Maple Leafs Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

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:

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:

Player profiles from All Three Zones for the current season—dark blue is good.
Data: Corey Sznajder/@ShutdownLine. Viz: CJ Turtoro/@CJTDevil.

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:

Player profiles from All Three Zones, 2016-2019
Data: Corey Sznajder/@ShutdownLine. Viz: CJ Turtoro/@CJTDevil.

But once they get into the offensive zone, Granlund has been excellent as a playmaker in ways Fiala has not:

Player passing profile for Mikael Granlund
Data: Corey Sznajder/@ShutdownLine. Viz: CJ Turtoro/@CJTDevil.

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.