Minnesota Wild: What can Kirill Kaprizov do in Year Two?

Kirill Kaprizov delivered on his potential in a Calder Memorial Trophy-winning season. The question is what can he do for an encore?(Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Kirill Kaprizov delivered on his potential in a Calder Memorial Trophy-winning season. The question is what can he do for an encore?(Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Minnesota Wild and their fans had absolutely no clue what to expect when Kirill Kaprizov hit the ice  after the young Russian forward inked his two-year entry level contract last July.

Kaprizov would come over to North America to join the Wild for the shortened 2021 season. Wild general manager Bill Guerin didn’t want to manage expectations other than just let the forward come over and do what had done the last six seasons in the KHL.

Right from the get-go, Kirill put on a show scoring his first NHL goal, an overtime winner against the Los Angeles King.

From there, he would have a lot of memorable gamess,  like on March 12, when Kaprizov  completed his first NHL hat trick against the Arizona Coyotes. Maybe it was the chemistry with linemate and good friend Mats Zuccarello that sparked Kaprizov to go on to scoring 27 goals and 24 assists in 55 games.

Kaprizov’s performance during the season was enough to warrant him to be a top three finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy as  the league’s top rookie. He won the award this past Monday..

Going into Kaprizov’s sophomore year, the hype will still be high off of his first season but I do think there is a chance that we could see Kirill The Thrill take his game to a whole new level.

But first,  Kaprizov and  the  Minnesota Wild will have to agree on a new contract. It was most recently reported that Kaprizov was off on a fishing trip in Siberia but there shouldn’t be any worries yet.   Kaprizov and the Wild still have a big offseason and time on their side to work out a deal.

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Second, the  issue at center is something the Wild have long struggled with. Not to harp on Victor Rask too much but is he really the guy you want centering a player of Kaprizov’s caliber?

The answer is that it’s less than desirable for the Wild and their fans to see potential success of the young Kaprizov being dragged down by a quickly fading Rask. It was reported that the Wild were sniffing around with Jack Eichel.

Although the price will be high, Eichel is a player that could mend very well with Kaprizov.

I do feel it is more likely player the  Wild will seek to match with Kaprizov may be one that doesn’t have a high price tag.   But, , if the Wild were to go all out on a center, it should absolutely be Florida Panthers captain  Aleksander Barkov.

Barkov could be the perfect center for Kaprizov with his playmaking abilities and being to win draws.

His 54.8 faceoff win percentage was second on the Panthers behind Owen Tippett. I see Barkov as a creative center, being able to win draws, play the physical game and score and with a center of Barkov’s caliber,

Kaprizov could make great strides towards having a 40-50 goal season at some point.

The one final thought for Kaprizov is his level of consistency..

Kaprizov was a very consistent scorer in the KHL. We could excuse his first couple seasons in the KHL as he was getting his feet wet in the league but since the 2017-2018 season, Kaprizov dominated the KHL by storm and just had gotten better until the 2019-2020 season when he left CSKA to join the Wild.

The outlook is great for Kaprizov coming into his second NHL season. Hopefully, with a new center for him to play with and getting to play alongside Mats Zuccarello again, we could see “Dolla Dolla Bill” Kirill take his game and the Wild to a whole new level.

*All Stats were found at NHL.com