MINNEAPOLIS - Kirill Kaprizov has yet to finish his first full regular season with the Minnesota Wild, and he might have already cemented himself as one of the best players in franchise history.
Kaprizov scored a goal and added an assist Saturday night as the Wild got a 3-1 win at the Carolina Hurricanes. In the process, Kaprizov took a franchise record from Marian Gaborik that stood for 14 seasons. Kaprizov is up to 85 points this season, which is the new benchmark for points in a single season. There are still 15 regular season games to play as the Wild continue to chase having home ice for the Stanley Cups Playoffs.
"It’s a huge accomplishment for me. I’d like to thank all my teammates, all the coaching staff, everyone in the organization that made it possible," Kaprizov said after Saturday’s win. "I think tonight we can maybe do a little bit of celebrating, but tomorrow is a game so we’ve got to focus right away and start focusing on the opponent tomorrow."
Kaprizov is now second on the Wild with 46 assists in 66 games this season. He leads the Wild with 39 goals.
Kaprizov got an assist on Mats Zuccarello’s 20th goal of the season to give the Wild a 1-0 lead. He scored in the third period as the Wild improved to 8-1-1 in its last 10 games, and 42-20-5 on the season.
Kaprizov and Zuccarello are the Wild’s top two scorers, with a combined 59 goals and 95 assists.
"Everybody sees the chemistry. There are no cliques, and they’re a big part of it. Zuccy is a big part of our veteran corps, and obviously Kirill is a great teammate," Wild coach Dean Evason said. "I think it goes a long way when you have your higher-end offensive guys buying in and being good teammates. It goes a long way for your team."
Kaprizov is showing no signs of slowing down after winning the Calder Trophy, which goes to the NHL’s top rookie, last season. His 85 points this season are good for sixth in the NHL, and his 39 goals are seventh in the league. He’s also got points in six straight games.
He’s played 121 career games, and he’s already being talked about alongside Alex Ovechkin as among the top Russian players in the NHL. Kaprizov and the Wild face Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals Sunday night. It’s the first time Kaprizov will face Ovechkin as an NHL player.
"To be honest it’s not something I focus on all the time. I just try to play my game, play the best you can. I think you just have to focus, buckle down and be the best you can every single night, and let things take care of themselves," Kaprizov said. "It’s not something I really focus on. It’s a great accomplishment, but I’ve got to keep playing well and the team has got to keep playing well. Just got to kind of stay with it."
Kaprizov is just four assists away from Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s single-season record in 2007-08. He’s three goals shy of the single-season goals record of 42, held by Gaborik and Eric Staal. There are 15 games left to get there.
"I don’t know, maybe? We’ll see," Kaprizov said.