Wild prospect Kaprizov having his best KHL season yet

Rather than focus exclusively on the Minnesota Wild’s top prospects, we’re taking a look at the best players from across the State of Hockey every week.

From college to the pros, check out our recap of all the week’s events in Minnesota hockey, as we check in with college players, Wild prospects and State of Hockey alums.

Let’s take a look at our three stars of the week in the latest edition of the State of Hockey Tracker.

FIRST STAR

Kirill Kaprizov, CSKA Moscow (KHL)

Kaprizov had a hat trick in Moscow’s 4-1 win over Slovan last Monday — including the ridiculous one-hander below — then scored two more in a 3-2 win over Ak Bars on Wednesday. His game-winner against Ak Bars was his 11th of the season, tying a KHL record, while Moscow’s win over Slovan was its 50th, setting another record. The 21-year-old now has taken another step forward in his fifth KHL season, and now leads the league with 29 goals in 54 games. A fifth-round pick of the Wild in 2015, Kaprizov could be one of the best late-round draft finds in recent history if he makes it to North America when his KHL contract is up next year. Seriously, look at this kid.

 

SECOND STAR

Nathan Burke, F, Minnesota (Big Ten)

The Gophers call it the “BMW” line. Freshman Sammy Walker centering fellow rookies Nathan Burke and Blake McLaughlin. Reunited after head coach Bob Motzko split the trio up for the Penn State series, Walker, Burke and McLaughlin led the way against Ohio State, combining for nine points and powering the Gophers to a 4-3, 4-3 sweep. Burke had the most productive weekend of his college career, racking up a goal and two assists Friday, then an assist on Saturday to lead Minnesota in points during the series.

 

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THIRD STAR

Zach Driscoll, G, Bemidji State (WCHA)

Driscoll took a few detours on his way to Bemidji, playing in the NAHL, USHL and BCHL before starting his college career with St. Cloud State. He appeared in just 14 games for the Huskies during the 2016-17 season before returning to the USHL for the 2017-18 season and enrolling at BSU as a sophomore transfer for 2018-19. He had a strong weekend for the Beavers, making 16 saves in a 2-2 tie with Northern Michigan on Friday, then turning aside 21 shots in a 3-0 win Saturday for his third shutout of the season.

 

AROUND THE RINK

— Minnesota State was idle over the weekend, but the Mavericks clinched a share of the WCHA’s regular-season championship. MSU has a 12-point lead on second-place Bowling Green and Lake Superior State.

— Gophers junior Rem Pitlick had a pair of assists against Ohio State, registering his 100th college point in his 105th career game.

— Gophers defenseman and Wild prospect Jack Sadek also scored in the series, finishing with a goal and an assist. Sadek was a seventh-round pick of the Wild in 2015.

Check out Buffalo, Minn., senior Hunter Poncius. In the fall, he’s a 6-foot-7, 270 lb offensive lineman committed to North Dakota State. In the winter, he is a hulking defenseman for his high school’s hockey team. For reference, Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara, the tallest player in the NHL, is 6-foot-9.

— Matt Kiersted of Elk River, Minn., tied a season high with three points (one goal, two assists) in North Dakota’s split with Western Michigan. The sophomore played on Hockey Day Minnesota 2014, helping Elk River/Zimmerman to a 4-1 win over Stillwater.

— Wild prospect Damien Giroux has been on a little run as of late, and now has five points in his last eight games. A fifth-round pick in 2018, the 18-year-old center ranks fourth on the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit with 23 goals in 54 games.