Central Scouting Rank: 3rd (Europe)
Kevin Fiala is the next hot-shot Swiss forward prospect, and is one of the fastest risers in the 2014 NHL Draft class. Fiala skyrocketed from 11th in NHL Central Scouting's mid-term rankings all the way up to third in its final ranking. The boost in Fiala's draft stock is reflective of the extent to which the game-breaking Swiss forward dominated the SuperElit and the SHL in the latter part of the season.
Fiala spent the majority of his season in the SuperElit, where he was roughly a point-per-game player, scoring 10 goals and adding 15 helpers in 27 games. Towards the latter stages of his season, he was promoted to the HV71 senior club and quickly secured a spot among the team's top-six forwards. Fiala managed a very impressive 11 points in 17 games, and six more points in eight playoff contests.
That's eye-popping production from a 17-year-old in a tough, men's professional league. Fiala crushed his age group in international competition too, as he was better than a point-per-game player in under-18 competition, and managed 14 points in nine games in under-20 competition.
He even competed for Switzerland's senior team at the 2014 World Championships in Minsk (where he managed two assists in seven contests).
Fiala is a gifted playmaker, with excellent puck-handling abilities and off-the-charts hockey IQ. While he's undersized, he's gritty and extremely difficult to bump off the puck, though his play without the puck will require improvement before he makes an impact at the NHL level.
Scouts are saying
"Kevin Fiala is an offensive forward with game-breaking potential. He is a respectable and shifty skater with quick legs and explosive acceleration. Fiala owns a slick skill-set with soft hands, good stickhandling and brilliant puck-control. Not known for his defensive play, as he still needs to learn what it means to stick to a game-plan or doing exactly what the coach has told him. Fiala is not very big or strong yet, but his quickness and agility lets him avoid getting hit or held back along the boards. Has a wealthy arsenal of shooting tools which, combined with his creativity and finishing abilities, makes him the player you turn to if you need a goal."
"In terms of points per game, he had the second-highest rate in the SHL among under-18 players in modern history, behind Peter Forsberg. He can make highlight-reel plays with the puck, and he's also a really good passer with great hockey IQ, and doesn't seem to turn the puck over. On the power play, Fiala is the kind of player you want controlling the puck and starting the puck movement. He's 5-11, and while that isn't ideal, he does battle hard and has a lot of drive to his game."
"Fiala's skills are very good but when you combine them with excellent determination, you get a player who can make a difference. He plays where it matters."
Feature photo courtesy of Getty/Graig Abel