After a summer of intense negotiations, in addition to a KHL threat, Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin finally got the face of the franchise to sign a new deal with the team. With training camp on the horizon, Kirill Kaprizov agreed to terms with Wild management on a five-year, forty-five million dollar contract ($9m AAV). This was several million over our projected figure range of $6-$7 million by the arbitration analyzer. However, given the circumstances, and the events of the summer, overpaying Kaprizov in hopes that he will grow into his deal is a gamble Bill Guerin is absolutely right in taking.
Kirill Kaprizov was far and away the Wild’s best player in the 2020-21 regular season as he led the team in goals scored (twenty-seven), tied for second in assists behind Jordan Greenway with twenty-four, and led all Wild players in points with fifty-one, eleven points higher than second place Kevin Fiala, who registered forty. Kaprizov drew a team-high twenty-five penalties to only eight taken and had a giveaway to takeaway ratio of thirty-one to twenty-seven. In terms of AB, he finished with the fourth-highest score on the team with a +6.89 score, behind only Joel Eriksson Ek (+9.18), Marcus Foligno (+7.28), and Carson Soucy (+6.96). Kaprizov’s immediate impact helped the Wild finish third in the West Division behind two of the best teams in the league in Vegas and Colorado.
In June, we published a Player Appreciation Post for Kaprizov, and discussed his accomplishments during his rookie season at length in that article. However, since then he officially won the Calder Trophy as the league’s rookie of the year, and nearly led the Wild to a 3-1 comeback in the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Vegas Golden Knights. We also mentioned in that June article that when we compared Kaprizov’s rookie year to his fellow contrymen’s, the results were astounding. He had the second highest rookie AB score by a Russian player in the history of our database, trailing only Valeri Nichushkin’s +11.82 score in 2013-14. Kaprizov’s +6.89 score was higher than Artemi Panarin’s Calder winning +4.31, 2018-19 Hart Trophy Winner Nikita Kucherov’s +1.50, Evgeny Kuznetsov’s -1.11, and Vladimir Tarasenko’s +4.32. All of these players outside of Panarin and Nichushkin have won a Stanley Cup. Outside of Kuznetsov, all the players mentioned in this paragraph are locks to make the Russian Olympic team this February in Beijing. In our very early Olympic projections, we have the Russian team at a combined team AB score of +42.21. Much more on the Olympics is coming from our end towards the start of the new year so stay tuned.
The Wild are in a bit of a tough spot over the three seasons after 2021-22, as the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyouts kick in next summer. The contracts of Kevin Fiala (5.1m), Victor Rask (4m), Jordan Greenway (2.1m), Alex Goligoski (5m) will all expire, and they currently have just over three million in cap space after the Kaprizov deal. After the Parise/Suter buyouts of $6.371×2 are factored in, the Wild will have around $3.5m in space next summer for Fiala and Greenway extensions. It’ll be interesting to see what Bill Guerin does to help his situation during the season, however, getting Kaprizov signed for this year means that the 2021-22 Wild are all-in, and we can’t wait to watch. Much more to come.