Coming in at the very top of our under 25 list is 2015 fifth-round pick Kirill Kaprizov. Kaprizov has endeared himself to Minnesota fans with his electric play in the KHL and past Olympic games, as his game-breaking style of play is something the Wild are in desperate need of.
Presently, Kaprizov is leading the KHL in scoring for his club CKSA Moscow with five goals and seven assists. He tallied 51 points in 57 games with CSKA last season, while helping them win the first Gagarin Cup in team history.
There is no better player in the Wild system that possesses more speed and skill than Kaprizov. Whether it’s passing or shooting, the 5-foot-9 forward has a unique ability to make spectacular plays offensively. Again, his knack to make offense happen is something the Wild are severely lacking at the NHL level presently.
The knock on Kaprizov, however, has been the fact he has been locked into a KHL contract. His current contract runs through the end of the 2019-20 season and the Wild are expected to heavily pitch him on signing an NHL contract upon that expiration.
You may recall, it took Minnesota a few years to make contact with Kaprizov after being drafted. Chuck Fletcher — the general manager at the time — tried to make contact but was never allowed by the winger’s Russian agents. After Kaprizov hired Dan Millstein as his North American agent, the Wild were finally able to make contact and express their desire that the star join them in 2020.
Wild owner Craig Leipold wrote a letter accompanying then-general manager Paul Fenton as he flew out to Russia last November to meet with Kaprizov and his agent, reiterating that desire to have him in Minnesota. Kaprizov remained steadfast in assuring the Wild that he wants to come over in 2020.
With a general manager change in late July, the Wild had to do damage control with their star prospect. One of the first things new general manager Bill Guerin did once he was hired was to contact Millstein and schedule a meeting with Kaprizov to reiterate that desire to get him here.
Once here, the Wild will no doubt be plugging Kaprizov into their top six as a very useful offensive asset. He would bring great skill to the power play and at five on five, both areas of needed improvement. The key for the Wild will simply be making sure he takes that trip over the pond once his contract with CSKA runs out at the end of April.
The future of the Wild could ride on getting Kaprizov to come over next summer. Without him, the Wild are completely lacking someone with the potential to be a star in this league. Considering the way this game is moving — younger and far more skilled — the Wild could be crushed for years to come if they cannot land this Russian winger.
The hope is that he is in the lineup come October 2020.