An offseason that was supposed to be exciting and a little bit of a relief for the Minnesota Wild has taken a unsettling turn. News has surfaced that not only have contract talks between Kirill Kaprizov and the Wild gone cold, but he is also back in Russia and appears to be in talks with CSKA Moscow about re-signing with the KHL and potentially playing in the Olympics in 2022. Kirill is coming off a season that will go down in the record books tallying 51 points and 8 powerplay goals in 57 games. He will become the Calder Trophy winner for Rookie of the Year, there is no doubt about that. However the issue now becomes keeping him in a Wild uniform for years to come.
The 24 year old Forward carried the offensive load for the Wild throughout the entire regular season. If I’m Bill Guerin, General Manager of the Minnesota Wild, I am doing everything in my power to keep this player in green and white. Now, saying that, Minnesota has been known to overpay on previous contracts. Suter and Parise for example who are making the same amount of 7.5 million per year until the end of the 2024-25 season. However, I do understand the Wild are not just handing over a blank check to the young Russian forward. Losing him however back to the KHL after he already was late in coming to the NHL would be devastating.
The Minnesota Wild drafted Kirill in 2015 in the 5th round. He then continued to play in the KHL and was able to tally a incredible 222 points in 262 games since his 2015-16 season overseas. Once arriving in the NHL last season he continued his scorching pace averaging 0.87 pts per game. It was not long before he became a fan favorite and the phrase “Kirill the Thrill” was born. He led the Wild in almost all offensive statistical categories. Only Kevin Fiala had more shots on goal than Kaprizov who had 157 of his own.
Officially Kaprizov’s agent Paul Theofanous has not come out with a statement in regards to the news about Kaprizov being in Russia and speaking to the KHL. There is hope Wild fans that they could be just using this tactic to scare the Wild into a better contract from the eyes of his client. The other positive is he has not played enough games to qualify as a Group 2 Restricted Free Agent. Therefore no other NHL team can offer-sheet the star forward. It’s either the Minnesota Wild or the KHL, those are the choices. Of course any news of Kirill not resigning with the Wild is scary to think of. Kaprizov single-handedly has brought excitement back to the state of Minnesota and seems to have helped the team re-tool instead of rebuild. Hidden behind some bad contracts there is some youth with Greenway, Eriksson Ek, and Fiala all 24 years of age, that would be the future of the Wild.