Making A Case For Kirill Kaprizov
Image courtesy of Andrei Chudaev-Metallurg NKKaprizov fell to the Wild in the fifth round (after a trade with Boston to get that pick), a round of the draft they have had horrid success in during their franchise history. However the concern with Kaprizov was that he would not leave the KHL, thus his dropping to the fifth round. Another knock on him was his small frame (5'9", 185 lbs), but still a bit of time for growth.
But what makes Kaprizov so enticing, is the production he is putting up in the KHL as an 18 year old. So far this season for Metallurg Novokuznetsk, Kaprizov has scored 11 goals and 15 assists in 46 games played. And if you compare that to some other notable Russian players who played in the KHL at that age, he falls right along the same lines as they do.
Vladimir Tarasenko (STL) age 18 season in KHL: 42 GP, 13 G, 11 A, 24 P
Evgeni Kuznetsov (WSH) age 18 season in KHL: 44 GP, 17 G, 15 A, 32 P
Kirill Kaprizov age 18 season in KHL: 46 GP, 11 G, 15 A, 26 P
Not bad company to be in for Kaprizov, who was selected to the Eastern Conference All-Star team in the KHL this season. Keep in mind he has put up these numbers for one of the worst teams in the KHL, this season, which makes it all the more impressive.
Update: Kaprizov scored three goals and had an assist in the KHL All-Star Game on Saturday.
[Also read: There is a lot to like about Kirill Kaprizov]
Kaprizov has been able to make some dazzling plays this season, whether that has come in the KHL or the World Junior Classic, he has been able to make some spectacular plays, which is something the Wild would dearly love to see on their roster.
But again, it all comes back to the question of whether or not the Wild can get Kaprizov to come over from Russia. He signed a three year contract extension with Metallurg this past summer, so it would be logical to assume he would play out that contract before coming over to the Wild (both Tarasenko and Kuznetsov came over to the NHL when they were 21. Kaprizov's contract would take him to age 21).
In an interview with the Hockey Writers last month, Kaprizov did express an interest in joining the Wild down the road, but he was focused on playing with Metallurg right now. Another key point in the piece was that he is trying to model his game after Tarasenko, who is his favorite player in the NHL today.
So while the Wild sit here and ponder over where they are going to find that dynamic offensive player they so badly need, the answer may already lie within their own system with Kaprizov. He is still a few years away, he appears to have an exciting skill set that would translate well to the NHL.
But again, it all comes down to whether or not the Wild can get him here...
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