It wasn’t likely Bill Guerin’s intention to do so, but while the Minnesota Wild GM was defending the play and effort-level of defenseman Matt Dumba, Guerin seemed to discredit what forward Kevin Fiala means to the Wild organization. His comments have caught some attention and many wonder if it means a Fiala trade out of Minnesota is inevitable.

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As Michael Russo and Harman Dayal of The Athletic point out, there’s a strong chance Fiala is traded regardless of what Guerin might think of him. The Wild have huge salary cap concerns heading into next season and Fiala has played well enough to earn a big contract extension. Whether that is with the Wild or another team, Fiala is going to get paid after an 85-point season. If the Wild can’t afford his new contract, a trade makes sense and Russo and Dayal believe Guerin could get two key assets in any deal, one being a first-round pick.

Fiala himself doesn’t seem too keen on staying. He’s changed his social media profile photos and removed references of him in a Wild sweater. He said “Thank you Minnesota” on a recent Instagram post and would only say “We’ll see” when asked if he thought he would be back.

But, it’s the Guerin comments that seem to be the final nail in Fiala’s coffin. Fans have assumed that to fit Fiala in on an extension, Matt Dumba will have to go. He’s a hefty contract and he’s not always as productive as one might like considering his $6 million salary. Moving that money easily makes a Fiala extension possible. Guerin doesn’t seem keen to do so.

Kevin Fiala Bill Guerin Minnesota Wild

The GM noted:

“Why is it always Dumba? Dumba plays a lot of minutes for us. There are a lot of things that Matt Dumba does really well. Everybody has their shortcomings. Kevin didn’t do well in the playoffs, but we’re all dying to keep him”… “I like Matt Dumba. I think he’s a damn good defenseman, and people want to write him out of town just because Kevin had three good months.”

That Guerin was quick to point out Fiala’s shortcomings is not a good sign. Instead of saying the player is valued by the organization, he’s suggesting that Fiala’s good season was not much more than a three-month window where the player boosted his overall totals with some strong games. In other words, Guerin isn’t convinced Fiala can replicate that production over the course of a long-term extension.

One has to wonder if he’s also relayed that messaging to Fiala. The forward’s decision not to say he was open to returning came just a couple of days after his end-of-season meeting with the GM. One has to wonder if that meeting didn’t go very well.

Guerin said that the team doesn’t have to get rid of anyone or keep anyone. They’ll make educated decisions as to the roster going forward and do what’s best when it comes time to helping this team win games.

Next: Jason Spezza Retires From NHL, Joins Maple Leafs Front Office

The post Bill Guerin Downplays Fiala’s Strong Season While Defending Matt Dumba appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.

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