At long last the Kirill Kaprizov saga has come to an end.
After a back-and-forth negotiation process — and that’s putting it lightly — the Minnesota Wild inked the 24-year-old Russian star to a 5-year, $45 million contract on Tuesday night.
The news comes less than 24 hours before the Wild report to training camp. Though he’s not yet in Minnesota, and will need to quarantine once he arrives, the fact that Kaprizov is under contract means there should be no issue with him being ready for the Oct. 15 season opener.
Wild general manager Bill Guerin was not immediately made available for comment. He is scheduled to talk to reporters on Wednesday afternoon.
This contract instantly makes Kaprizov the highest paid player in franchise history with an average annual value of $9 million. That a title used to belong to captain Jared Spurgeon with an average annual value of $7.575 million.
While that might seem like a lot of money for a guy that’s only played 55 games in the NHL, there’s no doubt Kaprizov earned a big pay day with his play last season. And the Wild absolutely had to get something done at some point.
There’s a legitimate argument to be made the Kaprizov is already the most talented player the Wild organization has ever seen.
He won the Calder Trophy last season after an incredible rookie campaign that saw him score team-high 27 goals to go along with 24 assists. In fact, Kaprizov was so dominant that he garnered 99 of 100 first-place votes from the Professional Hockey Writers Association, the highest percentage of first-place votes in Calder Trophy balloting since 1992-93.
As pretty much every Wild fan knows by now, it took some time for Kaprizov to come over from his native Russia after being drafted in the fifth round of the 2015 NHL Draft. That said, it’s safe to say he has more than lived up to the hype.
That’s something Kaprizov did pretty much as soon as he stepped on the ice for the Wild. He scored the game-winner in overtime of his NHL debut against the Los Angeles Kings on Jan. 14. It was a storybook beginning to his NHL career kept his foot on the gas pedal the rest of the way.
In the process, he captured the heart of Wild fans everywhere.
His stellar performance as a rookie gave Kaprizov and his agent Paul Theofanous some leverage heading into this offseason. Though it was widely reported that Guerin hoped to agree upon a long-term deal — perhaps a max 8-year deal if possible — Kaprizov was said to be in favor of a short-term deal.
Both sides met somewhere in the middle to get the deal done.
Now the key for Kaprizov will be proving it night in and night out. He’s being paid like one of the best players in the league and will be expected to perform like one of the best players in the league.