The Nashville Predators selected a center with their No. 11 pick at the 2014 NHL draft by the name of Kevin Fiala, and the young Swiss forward has done nothing but impress during his short time on North American soil. This coming from his time at the Predators’ rookie camp this time last year and his time in the AHL and NHL later on in the year.
Fiala, who doesn’t turn 19 until July 22, started his 2014-15 campaign overseas in the SHL where he had 14 points in 20 games. He then made the trip to North America and did more than impress Nashville scouts and management as he evolved his game into a new shape and form.
As he skated on the smaller ice surface in the United States with the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL, he continued to make positive impressions on Nashville’s brass.
In 33 contests at the AHL level, he scored 11 times and added 22 helpers.
Kevin Fiala is determined to make the Predators' opening-night roster, which he has made very clear to the team. http://t.co/fk2AMb97HT
— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) July 7, 2015
Not many people out there know the Admirals or Preds prospects as well as Admirals Roundtable, so we turned to them for a few questions via email about Fiala and his future.
Mark Harris: Fiala is known for his speed and stick handles, but you saw him play live many games this past season. What stands out to you about the young forward?
Admirals Roundtable: What impressed me about Fiala was how quickly he made adjustments to North American ice. His first few games it seemed like the closing speed of the defense surprised him but it wasn’t long before he looked like he had been part of the Admirals the entire season.
Also, to go along with his great skill level and speed, his determination and compete levels are outstanding. Whether it’s on the ice with an assist to set up Viktor Stålberg with 0.4 seconds remaining in regulation to set up overtime or off the ice when he’s telling his GM that he’s going to be playing here. He’s all systems go.
MH: When it comes to comparing him to Predators skaters he’s got traits of Filip Forsberg, maybe even Craig Smith with his skating skills, but who in the NHL or any other player you knows does his game directly relate to?
AR: I would say he’s like a pocket version of Forsberg. They both play the game at such a high rate of speed. They can score and are just as willing to tee up teammates.
MH: The Predators have a mix of young and veteran talent. The top six is almost set in stone and Fiala not in the top six would be a waste in my opinion. Do you think he could be effective (enough) as a third line winger/center?
AR: As much as he wants to be in Nashville I think he should be in Milwaukee until a better spot opens up. This is where another Forsberg comparison is going to come in because his 2013-14 should be the template for Fiala’s 2015-16. Key Word: Patience. He’s a good one but is still young. Set him up for success not failure.
Considering what AR touched on, Fiala could be a similar player to Forsberg, spending time in the AHL before making the jump to the NHL and competing for the Calder Trophy.
Fiala has the hands, the skating skills and the edge towards what it takes to become a regular NHL’er. Whether it be this upcoming season on a regular basis or the following year, he is a potential elite talent that the Predators are more than lucky to have.
It can not be overlooked that Fiala went from playing overseas to the AHL to the NHL all in one calendar year. He played in one regular season game with the Predators and one playoff game on top of that as an 18-year-old. Calling him up and allowing him to do so shows the confidence that Nashville’s management holds with the Swiss center.
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