Skip to main content

Why the Wild had to trade Mikael Granlund

Minnesota traded their best playmaker to the Nashville Predators.

In the final hour before Monday's NHL trade deadline, Minnesota Wild general manager Paul Fenton sent another core player – Mikael Granlund – packing in a trade to the Nashville Predators.

For some in the State of Hockey, it's been a tough pill to swallow as fan favorites Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle and now Granlund are no longer wearing forest green.

But the reality is that that trio was part of a Wild core that never vaulted Minnesota to the top. Fenton was hired to make changes and he's delivering in that regard.

Why did they trade Granlund?

Granlund is without a doubt the most gifted playmaker on the Wild. Since Bruce Boudreau's arrival, Granlund has been a consistent 60-point player.

He's always been a solid distributor, but he's never been able to consistently put the puck in the net, which is an area the Wild need help in.

The Finnish forward also has one more year left on his contract that'll pay him $6.5 million in 2019-20, so he's due for a hefty raise and with the Wild handicapped by the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter contracts, Minnesota doesn't want to bogged down by another big deal.

Who's Kevin Fiala?

Fiala, 22, was once considered one of the best prospects in the NHL when Nashville took him with the 11th overall pick in 2014 NHL Draft.

Funny enough, that's who Fenton used to work for and he was the one who went to the podium to announce that pick at the 2014 draft.

He played his first full season in 2016-17 at just 20 years old. During the playoffs that year, Fiala suffered a gruesome leg injury that saw him stretchered off the ice.

Despite the injury, he came back the next season and scored 23 goals (48 points) in 80 games.

Fast-forward time to this season and Fiala has been a bit snake bitten, with just 10 goals in 64 games. His 7.6 shooting percentage suggests he's been a bit unlucky. 

However, his advanced stats suggest he's still been a positive player in terms of driving possession, and other advanced stats show that when he's on the ice he's putting more shots-on-goal than he's allowing. 

In fact, his career Corsi For Percentage, which measures shot attempt differential, is 55 percent Granlund's is at 50 percent, so despite Fiala being four years younger, some numbers suggest that he's better at creating offense than Granlund.

Follow Bring Me The Sports on Facebook

What's his contract?

Fiala is a restricted free agent this summer, meaning the Wild still control his rights. He owns a cap hit of $863,000 and it's likely that he'll get a bridge deal. 

What's a bridge deal?

A bridge deal is typical when a player has had some success on their rookie contract but a team gives that player a shorter-term deal to give them a chance to prove they were more than a flash in the pan. 

It's a safer bet than locking them into a long-term contract. 

The Wild did exactly that with Matt Dumba in the summer of 2016 before inking him to the five-year contract that he signed last summer.

I'm not Fiala's agent, but I'd doubt he'd make more than $3 million per year during that bridge deal. 

What's the longterm plan?

After trading Niederreiter, Coyle, Granlund and re-signing Eric Staal, the Wild have about $16 million in cap space for next season, according to Cap Friendly.

Now they'll have to sign some of their restricted free agents like Fiala, Ryan Donato and Joel Eriksson Ek, but all three could be in line for bridge deals. 

That means nothing will break the bank and it should give them enough flexibility to sign additional free agents.

Maybe the Wild make a run at Minnesota natives Anders Lee or Brock Nelson if the Islanders let them walk? That remains to be seen, but regardless, Fenton is putting this team in position to add in free agency this summer.

The Wild are still in the playoff hunt now, but the gap between the juggernauts in the Western Conference and the Wild is probably too big to overcome.

Fenton is doing what he was brought here to do: shake things up and get this turned around quickly. 

He's putting a ton of trust in Fiala and Donato to have better careers than they did with their previous teams.

The first-year GM's assessment could be proved wrong in the long run, but what's certain is that the Wild haven't won a playoff series in four years, haven't been to the Western Conference Finals in over 15 years and have never been to a Stanley Cup.

The next era of the Wild is being constructed.

Next Up

walz flanagan lorie shaull flickr

Gov. proposes 'Walz Checks' for most Minnesotans

The governor wants to use $700 million of the state's surplus to fund the payments.

Hutch crash booking photo

Walz, Flanagan call on Hennepin Co. sheriff to resign

"I would say that it is time for him to resign," the Lt. Gov. said.

line 3 enbridge portage lake hubbard county mn tony webster flickr

Months after missing deadline, Enbridge says Line 3 aquifer breach is fixed

The company told Bring Me The News it "successfully stopped the flow of groundwater" at the site.

canada bodies found

Baby, teenager among 4 found dead along MN, Canada border

Authorities believe all four froze to death.

unsplash roller rink skates CROP

Former roller rink, tennis courts will become new sports hub

The Wooddale Fun Zone has been closed since spring of 2020.

hibachi daruma

Popular hibachi food truck opens second Twin Cities restaurant

The much-anticipated Daruma opens for takeout Thursday evening.

20211128_Vikings_49ers_REG12_0144 (1)

What changes are coming to the Vikings' offensive line?

Once again, Minnesota has work to do to figure out its interior spots

Kris Ehresmann

One of Minnesota's key COVID-19 leaders is retiring

Kris Ehresmann has given more than 30 years of her life to public health in Minnesota.

summit beach park orono

Plan to develop Orono park on hold after Daytons object

The Dayton family donated the land to the city for the park in the 1970s.

covid nurse doctor hospital wikimedia commons

Child from Twin Cities, school staff member die from COVID

Both deaths were reported by the Minnesota Department of Health Thursday.

snow

3 clippers will deliver snow to Minnesota through Tuesday

Clippers move through Friday night, Saturday night and again Monday.

Screen Shot 2022-01-20 at 10.45.51 AM

Video: Inebriated Sheriff Dave Hutchinson after high-speed crash

Hutchinson was unaware of his location and repeatedly said he wasn't driving.

Related

Ryan Donato

2 Wild players pegged as 2019-20 'breakout' candidates

Both players were acquired in trades last season.

Report: Wild trades Mikael Granlund to Nashville

Minnesota will reportedly get Kevin Fiala in return.

Mikael Granlund inks a 3-year contract with the Wild

He had a career season under head coach Bruce Boudreau.

Mikael Granlund's injury leads to another headache for the Wild

The Wild announced Granlund will likely be out for four games.

Mikael Granlund was playing with a broken hand during the playoffs

Granlund failed to score a goal during the playoffs.

Making the case for the Wild to trade up in the NHL Draft

They fell in the draft lottery and need a superstar.

Here's why trading Nino Niederreiter made sense

The fan-favorite forward was traded to Carolina this month.

Screen Shot 2019-02-15 at 4.07.15 PM

3 players the Wild could easily trade before the deadline

The NHL trade deadline hits at 2 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 25.