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Is the Minnesota Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov the Next Artemi Panarin?

The Minnesota Wild have an exciting offensive prospect in Kirill Kaprizov. He’s being compared to a pretty elite NHL player.

It seems like there are now stats about almost anything in today’s NHL. Admittedly, my knowledge of statistical analysis or hockey analytics is very basic. So while I am not exactly sure about the numerical configurations in the below tweet, the comparison between Minnesota Wild prospect Kirill Kaprizov and New York Ranger star Artemi Panarin is quite interesting:

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Panarin is a great story – undrafted, his game turned a corner in the KHL around 2014/15, then he quickly became an NHL star and has become an amazing talent since those days forward. Candidly, I faintly recalled Kaprizov’s name from the 2017 World Junior Championship in Montreal/Toronto (Kaprizov had 9 goals and 3 assists in 7 games during the tournament) but had not heard much else about this player since. It turns out there is some hype and high expectations for this player.

After signing an entry level contract in July of this year, Kaprizov is expected to hop into the Wild’s lineup when the next NHL season begins. Given the Panarin comparison, I wanted to find out more about the 23-year-old from Novokuznetsk, Russia.

Kaprizov and the KHL / NHL Draft

It appears that Kaprizov has always been a highly coveted player within Russia. During the 2014 KHL Draft, the Novokuznetsk Metallurg selected Kaprizov with the 1st overall selection. A year later, the Minnesota Wild selected the young Russian in the 5th round (135th overall) during the 2015 NHL Draft.

There’s a substantial disparity in terms of placement from the KHL to NHL drafts, but perhaps Kaprizov’s stature may have played a factor. At 5’10 he is similar in height to Panarin, but weighs approximately 30 pounds more as Kaprizov’s listed weight is normally around 200 lbs.

In the NHL, that size difference can mean an awful lot.

Since the KHL Draft

Kaprizov has now played six seasons with the KHL and his numbers have steadily risen during that time, including a better than point per game 2019/20 campaign with CSKA Moscow (33G, 29A in 57 games). His numbers suggest that Kaprizov is more of a finisher. In fact, he holds the KHL record for youngest player to reach the 100-goal mark at just 22-years of age. 

Of course, none of this guarantees that he’ll reach 100 goals in the NHL or that he’ll be accomplish anything close to what Panarin has and will over the course of the rest of his NHL career, but the chart suggests history is on his side.

The big question is, if he’s half the player Panarin is, how fast Kaprizov can reach the 100-goal mark in the NHL!  

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