There were reports this week that Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov had a one-year, double-digit deal on the table from the KHL. Frank Seravalli of The Daily Faceoff and Michael Russo of The Athletic noted it was unclear what it would mean for negotiations with the Wild, but Seravalli wrote, “the Wild appear ready and willing to talk a medium-term length deal.”
The speculation was that Kaprizov’s agent was using this KHL deal as leverage to get the Wild to back off their need to have the Calder Trophy winner signed to a long-term contract. Reports were that Kaprizov wanted something shorter, whereas the Wild weren’t willing to let him walk into unrestricted free agency. They’d tabled an eight-year deal that the player apparently scoffed at.
Reports on Wednesday, and in response to Seravalli’s report is that this KHL bluff is just a bad gamble and bound to be a transparent flop by the player and his agent. Andy Strickland writes: “One of the worst bluffs in sports history! CSKA budget has been spent plus there’s a cap that comes in around $12 million U.S.” This was followed up by KHL reporter Aivis Kalniņš, who wrote, “Literally what Andy said. I have no clue why people are buying it and why people are reporting KHL as a possible challenger for Kaprizov.”
So what does this mean? Kalniņš writes: “I’m hearing that he still intends and wants to remain with Minnesota. A source suggested that the KHL offer has been on the table for “a long while.” His return to KHL is considered an “emergency option.” In other words, this is not a player who wants to leave Minnesota or the NHL. This KHL deal is out there simply to apply a little pressure on Bill Guerin to get the numbers the player would like.
It’s probably not going to work.
Yes, the Wild are open to multiple scenarios on a deal and they aren’t necessarily stuck on it only being an eight-year extension. That said, there’s no way Guerin puts all the work into this prospect and remains as patient as he has simply to waltz him into unrestricted free agency in three years and perhaps the waiting arms of another team. And, because Kaprizov really has no leverage, other than to leave for the KHL, — which everyone seems to think he isn’t seriously considering — Guerin doesn’t need to rush things.
Kaprizov can’t receive an offer sheet from a rival NHL team, he’s got no grounds in which to demand a trade and at the end of the day, he’ll likely have to “live with” a medium-term deal of four or five years that pays in the neighbourhood of $7 to $9 million per season.
When all is said and done, the Wild waited five years for Kaprizov to come over in the first place. If the player really wants to hop back to the KHL for a season, the Wild can wait another year. They’re not going to move him just because.
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