Wild prospect Kaprizov developing into intriguing NHL-ready talent
The wait is almost over.
Kirill Kaprizov could join the Minnesota Wild as early as next year after spending six seasons in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.
A fifth-round pick back in 2015, Kaprizov has since developed into one of the most intriguing NHL-ready talents in the game.
Kaprizov powered CSKA Moscow to a title last season, winning the Gagarin Cup after leading the KHL with a career-high 30 goals in 57 games. He’s on pace to do it again this season.
Kaprizov stretched his point streak to six games with a goal Monday — he was held off the score sheet Wednesday — and ranks second in the KHL with 14 goals (27 points) in 26 games. He scored his 100th career KHL goal Oct. 13, becoming the youngest player in the league’s history to reach the century mark. Kaprizov appeared in his 300th KHL game earlier this month, and is up to 103 goals and 119 assists in 305 career games.
He made a little CSKA history earlier this season, scoring three goals in eight minutes, 35 seconds for the fastest hat trick in the decorated club’s history.
Kaprizov led the 2017 World Junior Championship in scoring, helping Russia to a bronze medal, before making his mark with the senior team a year later.
He scored in overtime just over a year later to lift Russia — competing as the Olympic Athletes from Russia — to a gold medal in the 2018 Olympics.
Drafted under former general manager Chuck Fletcher, his successors have each made wooing Kaprizov a priority. Paul Fenton made the trip last November, while current GM Bill Guerin is headed to Russia next month.
That Fletcher and the Wild, who entered the 2015 draft without a fifth-round pick, drafted him at all was something of a surprise. Minnesota had selected Russian players sparingly over the years, while Kaprizov was undersized (the league’s final draft rankings listed him at 5-foot-9, 185 pounds) and under contract in the KHL.
Still, the Wild sent a 2016 fifth-rounder to Boston for its 2015 fifth to land Kaprizov, who was coming off his rookie season in the KHL.
As it turns out, that seemingly minor deal could have an outsized impact on the Wild’s future.
— St. Cloud State sophomore Sam Hentges (seventh round, 2018) is tied for sixth in the NCAA with 16 points (six goals and 10 assists) in 10 games. Hentges had an assist during the Huskies’ two-game series with Colorado College last weekend.
— Minnesota Duluth junior Nick Swaney (seventh round, 2017) scored his first goal since Oct. 18 during the Bulldogs’ split with NCHC rival Miami. He’s up to three goals and five assists in 10 games.
— Iowa Wild goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen (fourth round, 2014) notched his second shutout of the season Oct. 16, making 22 saves in a win over the Chicago Wolves. Kahkonen has a .914 SV% and a 2.32 GAA in 10 games.
— Alexander Khovanov (third round, 2018) has six goals and nine points in six games this month, including a four-point outing Nov. 10. He’s tied for fourth in the QMJHL with 16 goals and sixth with 37 points in 19 games.
— Adam Beckman (third round, 2018) has four goals in his last five games and is tied for fourth in the WHL with 30 points in 19 games.