Well, the long and at times uncertain wait is finally over.
Just over five years after he was drafted by Minnesota with the 135th pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, Kirill Kaprizov is finally a member of the Minnesota Wild organization after signing a two year entry level contract with the Wild on Monday.
While it is unfortunate that he will not be eligible to play in the Stanley Cup Qualifying round against the Vancouver Canucks in early August, Kaprizov is expected to fly to Minnesota in the coming days to join the team at training camp, and then accompany them to Edmonton where he will be allowed to practice and train with the Wild, which should give him a good chance to get used to get to know his new teammates, while also getting more comfortable with his new surroundings in North America.
Either way, the most important thing is that Kaprizov is finally under contract with the Wild, and we can now start to look ahead towards the future to get a sense of just how good a player Kaprizov could actually be for Minnesota.
Aside from the pure offensive production in the KHL at a young age, Kaprizov also has a very high-end and creative offensive skillset that makes him such an outstanding player.
The first thing you’ll notice when watching Kaprizov play is just how smart he is on the ice. When he has the puck on his stick, he is never panicked, even under pressure, and is easily able to hold on for another half-second for a play, whether that’s a pass or a shot, to open up.
The next part of his game, which is extremely important in today’s quicker and more up-tempo NHL, is his skating. And if there was any part of Kaprizov’s game that one could pinpoint as an area that could use some improvement, his skating would be it. The main concern is that Kaprizov isn’t an absolute elite level skater who can blow past defenders and change the game with his speed. Combine that with his shorter stature at around 5’11, some seem to believe that it could hold him back from becoming a true star player in the NHL.
With all of that said, Kaprizov is still a good skater, in fact, he is closer to having an above-average skating ability than just an average one. As was discussed above, while he isn’t going to blow past defenders like some of the fastest skaters in the league, he does have the ability to do so every once in a while.
Another notable thing about Kaprizov’s skating is that his edges are very good, and combining that with his ability to stop and change directions quickly gives him the ability to create space between himself and the defender. As exhibited in the following clip, after being blocked off by a defender after entering the offensive zone, he makes a quick stop and sharp cuts to the middle of the ice, demonstrating his great edges, and then rips a shot past the goaltender.
Overall, Kirill Kaprizov is an extremely talented hockey player who has the talent and style of play to be an absolute stud for Minnesota — a potential top-line offensive dynamo and the exact type of player that the Wild and its fans have been hoping for since the days of Marian Gaborik. With Kaprizov finally under contract and close to being around the team for the first time, the future of his career with the Wild is getting closer and closer, and all signs show that he should be a very important part of the team’s long-term future.