Kevin Fiala just had his best season, scoring and helping set up more goals than he ever has before in the NHL.
But his return to the Wild isn't a given, not with the winger on an expiring contract and the team facing a tight budget.
"There's no other answer than 'We'll see,'" Fiala said Monday at Xcel Energy Center when asked about his future. "I don't know. We just lost, and there's no conversation yet and not in these two days either. So, we'll see."
How the Wild resolves Fiala's situation could shape its offseason.
The 25-year-old will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights coming off a one-year, $5.1 million deal agreed to last summer after the Wild elected for salary arbitration but before the two sides required a mediator.
With the increasing costs of the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyouts eating up more of the team's salary cap space and the rest of the core already signed, the Wild might not have enough room to afford a new contract for Fiala let alone to re-sign him and fill out the rest of its roster. And if that's the case, the team could be forced to trade Fiala after he became a 30-goal scorer as an NHLer for the first time.
Overall, Fiala has 79 goals and 107 assists for 186 points in 215 games. He leads the Wild in all three categories since he joined the team in a February 2019 trade that sent Mikael Granlund to the Predators.
"There's nothing I can do," Fiala said. "Right now, it was tough, tough loss here, so I'm still in that focus and everything else will settle later. We have time."
This uncertainty comes on the heels of Fiala setting highs in goals (33), assists (52) and points (85), but he contributed only three assists during the Wild's first-round playoff loss to the Blues in six games.
"I tried," Fiala said. "I tried my best, tried to get it going. Playoffs are playoffs. You can't score every game and make points. There's so much other stuff you have to do."
That ending, though, doesn't change what Fiala accomplished earlier in the season when he combined a career year offensively with expanding his defensive game to include regular responsibility as a penalty killer.
"Have to get better obviously, have to analyze and be better next playoffs, for sure," Fiala said. "But I had a great regular season and … you take the positive from the whole picture, from the whole season."