Minnesota sports can’t seem to have anything nice for long. That might include Kirill Kaprizov.
Could the 24-year-old Russian winger, who took the Twin Cities by storm in a probable Rookie of the Year campaign, really go back to the KHL? Apparently it is a possibility for a the forward known as ‘The Thrill’ for his goal-scoring and playmaking ability.
Kevin Weekes, a former goalie and current member of the NHL Network, caused a buzz Friday night with his tweet that the contract talks between Kaprizov and the Minnesota Wild had gone cold and that it’s believed that CSKA Moscow was interested in signing him.
So much for Kevin Fiala’s engagement being the biggest news on a Wild superstar player this week.
Michael Russo , of the Athletic, wrote on Friday that while Kaprizov’s interest remains in the NHL, the threat of remaining in Russia is his biggest leverage in contract negotiations with the Wild. Russo has reported that the Wild are interested in offering Kaprizov a seven- to eight-year contract. However, the winger and his agent appear to be interested in a shorter contract, in the range of two- to three years.
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In his reader’s mailbag earlier this month, Russo touched on what might be at the center of Kaprizov’s hesitation to sign a long-term contract with Minnesota. To no surprise, it is the Wild’s quality at the center position.
What I hear from folks close to Kaprizov: Until Guerin shows Kaprizov a clear plan to upgrade the middle of the ice and perhaps even begins to execute the plan, I just don’t see Kaprizov wanting to commit that length of his life and career to a place where, with all due respect, he has no allegiances, no ties.
Kaprizov finished the season as the top rookie in both goals (27) , points (54) and shots on goal (157). He was named a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy that is awarded to the NHL’s top rookie. Dallas forward Jason Robertson and Carolina goalie Alex Nedeljkovic .
The Wild waited for six years for Kaprizov to come to Minnesota after they drafted him in the fifth round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. He delivered on the potential this season and his No. 97 sweater was the one sported by the majority of fans at the Xcel Energy Center .
He is already in consideration among the most talented players in the Wild’s history and to lose someone who seemed to be the foundation of a team on rise would devastate the franchise.
Wild general manager Bill Guerin touched on the Kaprizov negotiations in a season-ending media conference.
” We’d prefer a longer deal but there’s two sides to the coin,” Guerin said. “You have to be open-minded. It’s a process so there’s some going back-and-forth and things like that, but, hey, we love Kirill.
“I don’t think there’s any secret there with what he’s brought to our team,” Guerin said. “We’ll do what we can to get a fair deal.”
And that could happen in the end.
While its not time for Wild fans to panic yet, their anxiety level in terms of Kaprizov’s future with the team has at least gone up a few levels. To lose a franchise-defining player that those fans have been waiting years for would be anything but fair.