The Minnesota Wild Finally Sign Their Russian Prospect, Kirill Kaprizov.
Wild fans, it is no longer in our imagination, we are finally going to see the Wild’s most prized possession in a Wild jersey. It felt like years on end waiting for the Wild’s most coveted Russian prospect to finally come to the NHL. Kaprizov, arguably the best player in the world outside the NHL, has dealt with a lot of adversity during this lengthy process that virtually felt like forever, but it is finally finished.
Kaprizov has met with three different Minnesota Wild General Managers throughout the process. Former Wild GM Chuck Fletcher drafted him, then Paul Fenton came along and made his mark on the franchise, which then has brought us to the current Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin.
Former GM Chuck Fletcher selected Kirill Kaprizov 135th overall in the 5th round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. There was no doubt this was a late draft steal which has many general managers shaking their head on how they missed such star talent.
It is official Wild fans!
Kaprizov has put pen to paper and has signed his two-year entry-level contract, the first year will be burned, so essentially it is a one-year contract for the 2020-2021 season. This will mean that the 23-year-old Russian will be one year closer to what likely will be a long and lucrative contract with the Wild.
So although the NHL rejected the opportunity of allowing prospects like Kirill Kaprizov to join in the play-in series and potentially the playoffs, he will be eligible to participate in training camp and it also looks like he’ll be able to travel with the Wild to Edmonton.
So although Kaprizov can not play when the season resumes, he will have the ability to get familiar with his teammates, surroundings somewhat to an extent, and hopefully continue to progress his English and acclimate to North American life.
His Time In Russia & Accomplishments So Far In His Young Career
In his six years in the KHL, Kaprizov has recorded 113 goals, 117 assists for 230 points in 293 games. He became the youngest player in KHL history to reach 100 goals and beat his predecessor by almost 3 full years.
Kaprizov, a five-time KHL All-Star, has accrued many accomplishments and awards already throughout his young career. He has won the U20 WJC Silver Medal in 2015-2016, U20 WJC Bronze Medal in 2016-2017, World Championship Bronze Medal in 2018-2019, and his biggest achievement, the Olympic Gold Medal in 2017-2018.
Hopefully, the next biggest achievement to add to his resume is the Calder, one day a Richard, and of course: The Stanley Cup.
Kaprizov was a star in the KHL, hopefully, it will translate to the NHL.
Expectations for Kaprizov In 2020-2021 Season
When Kaprizov arrives, there will be a lot of changes for him including a new language and new surroundings which will take a long adjustment period. It will be interesting to see how he handles this adjustment and how it will affect his game next season.
Kaprizov could be the NHL’s next biggest star and is projected to make an immense impact on the Wild. He has the qualities of a star, he has the vision, shot, speed, agility, and explosiveness the Wild have much lacked for years.
ESPN Staff Writer Chris Peters has Kaprizov as the #1 NHL prospect and explains:
"“While there may be an adjustment to the North American style, the Wild should reasonably expect him to be an impact player, a Calder Trophy Contender and quite possibly their biggest home-drafted star since Marian Gaborik”"
I think it is fair to see him as a contender for the Calder Trophy, I think a fair projection could be 30 goals and around 60 points. New Jersey’s Nikita Gusev recorded 13 goals, 31 assists for 44 points in 66 games. Gusev averaged just over 14.5 minutes per night, so assuming Kaprizov is given a top 6 role and power-play time, he should be given even more than 14 minutes.
What Could His Next Contract Look Like?
It is hard to predict what a contract could look like for Kaprizov, obviously how he adjusts to the NHL and what kind of season he has will influence and affect his next contract. If Kaprizov does have an unbelievable season, elite-level production, then the Wild will surely lock him up long-term, I would assume for no less than 8-9 million a year.
On the Contrary, if Kaprizov takes longer to adjust and struggles, there could be a possibility that the Wild and Kaprizov explore a bridge-deal so he can bet on himself. Although, the Wild would prefer a long-term contract to forego free agency in the future.