MINNEAPOLIS - On the same day the Minnesota Wild named Dean Evason the full-time head coach, the team announced they’ve signed to prospect Kirill Kaprizov to a two-year, entry-level contract.
Kaprizov is expected to travel to the Twin Cities and practice with the team once he clears Covid-19 protocols. He’s also expected to travel with the team to Edmonton for the NHL’s 24-team return-to-play tournament, but is not eligible to play until next season.
Kaprizov is one of the most highly-touted prospects in the history of the Wild. He was the Wild’s fifth round pick, No. 135 overall, in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Kaprizov had 62 points, including 33 goals, a plus-32 rating, six power-play goals and six game-winning goals in 57 games this season with CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League.
"I’ll be honest with you, it feels really good. It feels really good to get this done, we’re excited to have Kirill in the mix. We’re going to try to get him here as quickly as possible, jump through any hoops that we have to," Wild General Manager Bill Guerin said Monday. "Unfortunately he won’t be able to play in any games this year, but we’re going to get him in the mix and get him around his new teammates as quickly as we can. It’s an exciting day for a lot of reasons for the Minnesota Wild."
He set career-highs in goals, even-strength goals, assists, points and shots on goal. The Russia native led the KHL in goals for the second straight year, was third in scoring and led his team in power-play goals.
When asked what impressed him most about Kaprizov, Evason didn't hesitate and said compete level.
"What I was most impressed with was when he went into corners for 50-50 pucks, he came up with those pucks. And if he didn’t, he was competing his butt off to do that. That’s exciting for me," Evason said. "Clearly he has the skill level to score and the skill level to pass, skate, shoot, all of that. But his compete level is something that came across very clearly on the video. We are jacked to get him."
Kaprizov, 23, is a five-time KHL All-Star, and played for Russia in the 2018 Winter Olympics. He had nine points, including five goals, in six games and scored the game-winning goal in overtime against Germany in the Gold medal game. He tied for first in goals, and tied for second in scoring at the Winter Olympics.