Following a year in which he played well in the AHL and made both his NHL and Stanley Cup playoff debuts, Kevin Fiala seemed primed to make the Nashville Predators.
But on Saturday, he was cut.
“It’s difficult,” Preds head coach Peter Laviolette said Monday, per The Tennessean. “He’s a young player. He’s going to be a terrific player for us. We’ve got 23 spots on the roster that we can take players in, and at this point, this is where we felt we needed to be.”
In dropping Fiala, 19, from the roster, Laviolette alluded to the path taken by Nashville’s leading scorer last season, Filip Forsberg.
Forsberg started the ’13-14 campaign — as a 19-year-old — with the Preds, only to be returned to AHL Milwaukee after just 12 games. The organization felt he needed to learn more at the American League level, and the move has seemed to pay off; Forsberg had a terrific ’14-15 campaign, scoring 63 points while appearing all 82 games, and finished fourth in Calder voting.
Fiala, the 11th overall pick in 2014, is believed to have similar offensive upside to Forsberg, which is why some thought he could be a fit in Nashville’s bottom-six forward group. Though he wasn’t drafted to be a bottom-six froward, Fiala — who had 20 points in 33 games for the Admirals last year — could’ve “learned on the job” in a lesser role and provided a punch to that group, which GM David Poile wants more scoring from this year.
But instead, like Forsberg in ’13-14, Fiala’s now off to try and rack up some points in Milwaukee.
“His path should be pretty close to Filip’s,” Laviolette explained. “That’s a good path. Filip developed, he learned a lot and when he got here, he was ready to make a difference.”