The Nashville Predators had the 11th pick in the 2014 NHL Draft this past June. With the selection, the Predators drafted Swiss winger Kevin Fiala out of the Sweeden. Fiala, 5’10” 187 lbs, is an incredibly quick player. Quick in his feet, and his hands which call for a speedy shot. Fiala’s offensive game is the bee’s knees, but like many other young players in the draft his defensive game needs improvement before he can make an impact at the NHL level.
Kevin Fiala (Photo: Ann Karlsson)
Fiala was drafted out of the Sweden and started this year in the Sweden. In his draft year, Fiala put up 13 goals and 23 assists in 44 games. He missed some time due to the World Juniors, where he was a point per game player scoring 5 points (1-4) in 5 games.
Moving into the next season, Fiala started with HV71 in Sweden. There he had 5 goals and 9 assists in 20 games. He also took part in the World Junior tournament for Team Switzerland. He had 4 goals and an assist in Montreal and Toronto. His numbers were worth a double take due to the difficulty it takes to score in the Swedish leagues.
“We feel that Kevin’s development into an NHL-ready player is best served by playing the duration of the 2014-15 season under the guidance of Milwaukee Head Coach Dean Evason and Assistant Coach Stan Drulia in the Predators system. By getting a head start on the acclimation process to the North American style of play and smaller rinks, we expect Kevin – like
two seasons ago – will continue his growth as a dynamic offensive prospect.”
– NSH GM Dave Polie
Nashville general manager Dave Polie liked what he saw out of Fiala in Sweden and made the decision to assign him to Nashville’s AHL team, the Milwaukee Admirals. In the team’s announcement Polie thanked the HV71 organization and praised Fiala.
This was the best hockey move for the Predators to make. Like Polie said, Fiala is at a time in his development where he needs to play the North American game. Playing in the AHL will give Fiala a professional experience and an opportunity to play with bigger bodies.
Fast forward and Kevin Fiala has played 11 games in the AHL. He has shown signs of promise in his physical play and shown signs of an elite player in his offensive game. 8 points, including 4 goals, isn’t bad for a first timer at the North American game either.
Courtesy: Milwaukee Admirals
This video is a highlight pack of Fiala’s first two goals in North America. The video is a great microcosm for what Fiala can bring to an NHL team. His breakaway goal showcases his quick feet and shot. His backhand is comparable to a Crosby.
In his 2nd goal, Fiala shows us he can have a net-front presence and tries to tip-in a point shot. Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful, but no problem as he takes control of the rebound to put it in the back of the net.
Kevin Fiala (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)
Playing in a full AHL season could do wonders for Fiala. However, if Fiala can build himself in the offseason he may have a shot at the NHL roster come next October. It also helps that the Predators are all but guaranteed a playoff spot. This way Fiala could see NHL action after his AHL season ends.