The Minnesota Wild are stuck in the middle of the road right now. They have a veteran core with young players sprinkled all over the roster. When the Wild name their next general manager that individual will have to decide whether to try and tear it down, or press on with the goal of attempting to bring the Stanley Cup to the State of Hockey during the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter era.
No matter what direction the new general manager decides to take, one thing is clear that he will have a talented duo waiting in the wings. The duo of Kirill Kaprizov and Matthew Boldy have Wild fans dreaming of a brighter future. A future that may be on the horizon. Both prospects appeared in a recent article on sportingnews.com, titled Top 50 Prospects in NHL Pipelines. Kaprizov was number seven on the list and Boldy came in at number 23.
“Wild fans should start getting excited for Kaprizov,’ Josh Bell, a contributor for TheHockeyWriters.com, said. “With Nikita Gusev coming to the New Jersey Devils in the upcoming season, Kaprizov is arguably the best player in the world not playing in the NHL.”
Kaprizov was drafted in the fifth round in the 2015 draft. With only one year remaining on his KHL contract, he could be heading to the State of Hockey in 2020-2021. The talented winger is coming off a 30 goal season and would make an immediate impact for the Wild when he makes his debut.
“If Kaprizov’s game translates to the NHL, the Wild should see the best player in franchise history,” Brett Marshall, the host of the PuckPourri podcast said. “He’d be just 23 years old when he gets here, so right around the age many prospects enter the league. He brings a great shot that makes him a threat to score, but his playmaking abilities make him just as much of a threat as a passer.”
Kaprizov has recorded 20 or more assists for three straight seasons. Bell said his passing ability is what makes him such an elite prospect.
“Kaprizov has turned into an elite goal-scorer in the KHL,” Bell said. “But he’s also a tremendous passer and his hockey IQ is through the roof.”
This past season the Wild finished 27th in scoring with 210 goals. Kaprizov’s scoring prowess will be a welcome site when he makes his Wild debut.
“After one more season playing with CSKA Russia, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see the prospect come straight into the Minnesota’s top six and provide an offensive flair that’s been lacking in recent years,” Bell said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become at least a 30-goal and 60 to 70-point player in North America.”
The Wild took Boldy with the 12th pick in this year’s draft. Marshall said that the forward, who is committed to Boston College is a jack of all trades type player.
“He sees the ice really well,” Marshall said. “He is really good at creating time and space for himself and his teammates. He also likes the dirty areas and scores a lot around the net. I wouldn’t say that there’s one specific thing he does well, but rather there aren’t many things he doesn’t do well. One thing that’s impressed me so far is how smooth of a skater he is on his edges, which helsp him create that time and space.”
Boldy was the top scorer for the USNTDP’s team in 2018-2019, finishing with 33 goals and 81 points. Bell said Boldy was one of his favorite prospects in the 2019 draft.
“I had him as a top-10 pick, but he probably got overshadowed by the other stars on the USNTDP squad,” Bell said. “Of his many strengths, his greatest is probably his adaptability. Whatever the team needs from him, he can run with it and seems to excel whether it’s scoring goals, making plays or defending. It didn’t matter if he was playing with Jack Hughes or Trevor Zegras, he still succeeded.”
Other Prospects in the Pipeline
Kaprizov and Boldy are the two names that most fans will see in the headlines, that doesn’t mean the Wild don’t have more talent in the pipeline. There is defenseman, Louie Belpedo, who appeared in two games for the Wild this past season. There is center, Alexander Khovanov, who is coming off a 74 point season for the Moncton Wildcats in the QMJHL.
The player that Marshall is most excited about is Connor Dewar. A player that he thinks could be the next Parise.
“Just from what I’ve seen and know about him, he plays with a ton of heart and grit and really screams the second coming of Zach Parise,” Marshall said. “He put up 81 points in 59 games for Everett in the WHL last year and was the captain of that team. He got emotional after their last game as he had to say goodbye to his teammates. I think he just brings a lot of the skills and character you want in a player. I’d compare him and his upside to that of Parise and Luke Kunin.”
Another player added to the Wild pipeline through the 2019 draft is, Vladislav Firstov. The Wild drafted him in the second round and Bell said he is excited about the wingers potential.
“I’m really excited to see what Firstov can do moving forward,” Bell said. “He was nearly a point-per-game player in the USHL, with 58 points in 62 games. He competes hard, can shoot well, and is a great passer. He’s definitely in a tier below Kaprizov and Boldy, but there’s a lot of promise.”
The Wild had their run of six straight playoff appearances snapped this past season. Then they fired general manager, Paul Fenton. It would appear that the Wild are headed for a train-wreck of a season, however, the night is always darkest before the dawn, and the Wild could surprise the critics this year with a playoff berth. Even if they don’t make the postseason this year, there is no denying that there are brighter days ahead for the Wild faithful.