On the 13th of July, the Minnesota Wild announced 2 major pieces of news. The first was the promotion of Dean Evason, who is the new head coach after a strong showing as interim head coach. The second part was the signing of top prospect Kirill Kaprizov. A player many consider the best player outside the NHL last year.
Kirill Kaprizov Signs
It took a long time for the Minnesota Wild to sign Russian superstar Kirill Kaprizov, but it finally happened. After Minnesota drafted him in the fifth round of the 2015 draft, he almost immediately got noticed by fans and experts. In his first full season in the KHL he put up 27 points and in his second season he put up 42 points. At 19 years old things looked very promising. However, instead of Kaprizov signing with Minnesota, he signed a 3 year deal with CSKA Moscow instead. A deal now almost infamous in Minnesota, as it did not include a release clause for the NHL. Therefore Kaprizov was stuck in Russia for the foreseeable future, while Minnesota was desperate for someone with a scoring touch. Something Kaprizov has brought to every team he has played for.
When he joined CSKA, he torched the KHL. In 160 regular-season games, he scored 78 goals and had 75 assists for a total of 153 points. In the playoffs, he was a key part of the CSKA team that won the 2019 Gagarin Cup with 14 points in 19 games. This is with Kaprizov playing 8 games on the fourth line, with unknown reasons behind it. In other words, in the KHL Kaprizov was a star. Internationally he is an Olympic gold medal winner from the 2018 Olympics. Not just that but he also scored the overtime winner and was involved in all of Russia’s goals in the gold medal game.
Hype And Worry
After that game and his rise in the KHL, the hype around Kaprizov went into overdrive. Fans started dubbing him the savior of the franchise and every game was one game less without Kaprizov in the lineup. Constantly looking for news on Kaprizov and hoping that he would eventually sign for the Wild, while worries of him staying in Russia constantly loomed. Especially the past few months with the Covid-19 pandemic. However, on the 13th of July, the wait was finally over. The 23-year-old Russian is going to suit up for the Minnesota Wild in the 2020-2021 season.
The Contract Confusion
While Kirill Kaprizov is first eligible to play in 2020-2021 seasons, his contract technically starts immediately, the first year of his contract is getting burned during the playoffs. Meaning that of his 2-year ELC deal, he actually only has one year where he is able to play for Minnesota. This seems a bit strange and it is, but for both parties, it makes a lot of sense. For Minnesota, they got their top prospect signed, before another tempting offer from Russia came to Kaprizov. This locks him with Minnesota and while the deal isn’t ideal due to the pandemic, the Wild got their man.
Even though Kaprizov only has one year on his ELC deal, he sorta remains an RFA for the 2021 offseason. The reason its sorta, is that its Kaprizov doesn’t quite meet the requirements to become an RFA or UFA. However, since this is the case the wild holds exclusive rights to negotiate Kaprizov’s next contract and first real payday. This means Bill Gurien can start negotiating a more long term deal with Kaprizov from the start of next season.
For Kaprizov this gives him a chance to play in the NHL while getting a larger payday quicker than expected. He will also get a chance to practice with the Minnesota Wild in phase 3 of the restart, getting used to the teammates, coaches, and so on, while having an offseason getting ready for the new season. This should help towards integrating the Russian into the Wild and Minnesota.
Dean Evason Goes Full Time
The second major part of the day for Minnesota was the fact that Dean Evason was selected as their full-time head coach after having done nicely as interim. Evason took the job in February 2020, after Bruce Boudreau was fired due to a lackluster season. Since Evason’s appointment, the Wild had an 8-4-0 record and had managed to get back into the playoff hunt.
The team was looked revitalized, especially Kevin Fiala, since the coaching change. Everything was going well and Evason seemed well-liked in the dressing room. Evason had done enough to convince Bill Gurien that he deserved a full-time chance as the head coach, and it will be his job to lead the Wild bench until 2022 for now.
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