StaTuesday: Race for Calder Trophy is on for Wild’s Kaprizov

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

Kirill Kaprizov is the real deal.

Minnesota fans had to watch from afar as Kaprizov played in the KHL for five seasons after being selected No. 135 overall by the Wild in 2015. He quickly rose from fifth-round draft pick to the franchise’s most coveted prospect since Marian Gaborik, racking up 78 goals, 75 assists and 153 points for CSKA Moscow from 2017-20.

Finally making his NHL debut Jan. 14 against the Los Angeles Kings, Kaprizov wowed the hockey world by logging two assists and a stunning game-winning goal in overtime.

Kaprizov’s three points were the most for a Wild rookie in his NHL debut.

Since his flashy first game, Kaprizov posted three assists in the Wild’s next five contests. In six career games, Kaprizov has registered six points — one goal and five assists — with 12 shots on goals, a plus-4 rating and four hits while averaging 18:42 time on the ice per contest, the highest mark of any Wild forward this season.

He also attempted a shot between his legs during the Wild’s 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks on Friday. If that would’ve found the back of the net …

Anyway, Kaprizov’s six points through six games is tied for the most for a rookie in Wild franchise history.

Maxim Sushinsky, who, strangely enough, was another fifth-round pick out of Russia by the Wild, also tallied six points over his first six NHL games in 2000-01, the inaugural season for the franchise. Sushinsky had one assist over his first four NHL contests before erupting for four goals and an assist (five points) in career games No. 5 and No. 6.

The 2000-01 season was Sushinsky’s lone NHL campaign. He was back playing in Russia the following year and never returned.

Mikko Koivu and Marian Gaborik, the franchise career leaders in points and goals, notched five points apiece over their first six contests in 2006 and 2001, as did current Wild forward Joel Eriksson Ek.

Ten different Wild rookies have tallied 3+ points over their first six contests.

1 Maxim Sushinsky 2000-01 6 6 4 2
2 Kirill Kaprizov 2020-21 6 6 1 5
3 Mikko Koivu 2005-06 6 5 2 3
4 Marian Gaborik 2000-01 6 5 4 1
5 Joel Eriksson Ek 2016-17 6 5 2 3
6 Tony Virta 2001-02 6 4 2 2
7 Brent Burns 2003-04 6 4 1 3
8 Peter Bartos 2000-01 6 4 2 2
9 Luke Kunin 2017-18 6 3 1 2
10 Matt Foy 2005-06 6 3 2 1

The most points ever scored by an NHL rookie over his first six games was 13 — two goals and 11 assists — by Hall of Fame forward Sergei Makarov for Calgary in 1989-90. Makarov notched three points in his debut and four points in his second career game. He logged at least one point in his first seven career contests.

In 2021, Kaprizov’s six points are tied for the league lead among rookies. New Jersey defenseman Ty Smith, a first-round pick in 2018, also has six. Only two other rookies — Chicago forward Pius Suter and Vancouver winger Nils Hoglander — have more than two points, with four apiece.

The race for the Calder Memorial Trophy is on.

And Kaprizov is leading the charge.

Statistics courtesy Stathead.