We’re learning a lot about the younger core of the Nashville Predators during the pre-season. And Kevin Fiala is leading that charge through three games.
Fiala is one of the top stories of the pre-season as he’s looking more than ready to bounce back from his nasty playoff injury. He’s making a strong case to be on the Nashville Predators’ second line, especially after his two-goal showing against Columbus.
Fiala’s Preseason Performance
Fiala is easily exceeding my expectations through three preseason games, and he’s not missing a beat. His goal to put the Nashville Predators up two against Columbus was thrilling as he knifed his way through the defense. His ability to skate through defenses like this makes him a great weapon on the second line.
Fiala opened the preseason tallying an assist in a win over Florida, but didn’t play in the second game of the doubleheader. It will be intriguing to see how he finishes the preseason against Columbus and Tampa Bay, both at home.
Filip Forsberg, perhaps the team’s top-scoring threat, isn’t surprised at what Fiala is already doing. Especially this quickly after a fractured femur just a few months ago:
Here’s a look at Fiala’s ridiculous goal in the win over Columbus, per hockey writer Brady Trettenero:
This team’s best scoring threat remains Forsberg, but Fiala looks primed to be the No.2 scorer by this time next year.
Where Fiala Fits
Now we have to speculate where Fiala will fit in on opening night against Boston. With how he’s looking in the preseason, he needs to be on the top two lines. His speed and puck handling is something the Predators will need to beat the NHL’s top contenders.
Another goal in the preseason will be nice, but really it’s about how he continues to progress within the offense. Can he show that he’s ready to play a bigger role in Peter Laviolette‘s aggressive offense? Can he show that fits his skill-set perfectly fits in while avoiding any major setbacks?
Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson may still be hitting their peaks, but Fiala hasn’t scratched the surface of his high ceiling. That’s reason for a lot of excitement as he will play a critical role in creating scoring opportunities.
It’s likely that Fiala will be on the second line alongside Craig Smith, which is another respectable scorer. That makes the Predators very lethal thanks to Fiala being way ahead of schedule in his recovery, and a 20-plus goal season should happen for him in 2017-18.