On the second day of 2020-21 NHL action, another Russian player lived up to his highly anticipated debut. Minnesota Wild rookie Kirill Kaprizov made a statement on Thursday evening by racking up the overtime game winner over the Los Angeles Kings. Prior to the OT tally, he had already collected two assists. To say the least, it was a solid debut.
Whether or not Kaprizov is the savior that takes Minnesota to the next level is long to be determined. That said, he provides an offensive spark plug within an offence that needed to be ignited. Was this just an explosive start or can Wild fans come to expect these performances?
Kaprizov is from Novokuznetsk – a central Russian city approximately 3,700 kilometers east of Moscow. The 23-year-old right winger has always been a prominent figure within the Russian national team. He has participated in the Hlinka/Gretky U18, World Junior Championships U20, as well as the IIHF World Championship tournament. He was also Russia’s youngest player at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Given his extensive national experience, it was somewhat surprising that he dropped to the 5th round of the 2015 NHL draft when the Wild used the 135th pick to take Kaprizov. Perhaps that is why he choose to spend the last five seasons in the KHL, instead of rushing to North America to prove his value.
Regardless of how the situation evolved, both he and the Wild decided that it was his time after the 2019-20 season with CSKA Moscow. The sniper finished with 33 goals and 29 assists (62) in 57 KHL games. In July of 2020, the two parties agreed on a two-year entry-level contract at an AAV of $925K. That also means Kaprizov becomes an RFA after this season. However, he is ineligible for an offer sheet as he lacks enough experience to qualify for Group 2 RFA status.
That is good news for the Wild. There is a lot on the line in this case and the Russian’s next contract will obviously be determined by this shortened season. Off to a good start, but is it sustainable?
Time will tell and I am excited to watch accordingly!
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