Kirill Kaprizov might provide one last thrill for the Minnesota Wild this year.
The 24-year-old winger, who led the Wild in goals and points, is among the three finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy that is awarded to the NHL’s top rookie. Dallas forward Jason Robertson and Carolina goalie Alex Nedeljkovic are also candidates for the honor, which is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
The league announced the three finalists on Thursday morning and the winner will be named during the NHL Award Show that will be held either in the Stanley Cup Final or semifinals round. Colorado defenseman Cale Marker was the league’s top rookie last year.
Kaprizov, who is the first Calder Memorial Award finalist in the Wild’s history, announced his arrival in the the opening game of the season. He had two assists and the game-winner in on a breakaway in overtime against the L.A. Kings. It showed how good he could be and the Wild’s wait for Kaprizov — a fifth-round selection in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft who spent four seasons in the KHL — was worth it.
He didn’t slow down from there.
He finished the year as the top rookie in both goals (27) , points (54) and shots on goal (157). Karpizov, who has the nickname of “The Thrill” also set franchise rookie marks for goals, assists and points. His performance made him a clear choice for the Calder during the season. He added two goals and an assist in the postseason as the Wild pushed Vegas to a Game 7 in an opening-round series.
How does Kaprizov compare to the other candidates?
Robertson was considered Kaprizov’s biggest threat for the award for the majority of the season. He led the rookies in both assists (28) and even-strength points (39). His 45 points ranked second on the Stars, only behind Joe Pavelski (51). He also had 127 shots on net this season and had 12 goals and 29 points in a 29-game stretch.
Nedeljkovic posted a 15-5-3 record during the regular season and and also had three shutouts which tied the New York Islanders’ Ilya Sorokin for the most among rookie netminders this year. He allowed two or fewer goals in 16 of his starts for the Hurricanes, who won the Discover Central Division.