Some very interesting news has come out of the Minnesota Wild organization. Krill Kaprizov did amazing things as a rookie and many thought he would stick around for a while. The hope was to sign him ot a long term deal. Reports are coming out that contract talks have stopped. If Kaprizov leaves, it would be a huge blow to the Wild.
What we Know
The Wild have always had solid and steady players. Kaprizov has the it factor that the team has never had before. If he returns to Russia, chances are he won’t come back. The story right now is that CSKA Moscow in the KHL, a well known Russian hockey league, wants to bring him in. There is also a plan in place to add Kaprizov to the Olympic roster.
The KHL produces great players that NHL teams tend to bring in from time to time. Other NHL players play in the league to resurrect their careers and return to the United States. The scoring prowess and elite passing Kaprizov brings is not something a team can find growing on trees. Nobody else on the Wild roster can do what he can do.
The Big Picture
After being blocked from doing so, NHL players can play in the upcoming Olympics for the first time in a long time, so that isn’t the problem. The main concern is if Kaprizov changed his mind about staying in America and why. The Wild offered to bring in another Russian player to make him more comfortable when he first joined the team, and it seemed Kaprizov was willing to stay with or without that gesture.
While special treatment probably isn’t the way to go since that will upset the other players, talking things out with Kaprizov and telling him that he is viewed as a franchise player could go a long way. When the Detroit Red Wings were trying to bring Russian players in before it was a common occurrence, they offered to help the players and their families in anyway possible. That was key at that time because the Russian government was strict about players leaving since they were also officers in the military. Leaving was considered treason. Detroit’s plan worked, and a dynasty was born.
It wouldn’t hurt for Minnesota to bring in other young Russian players from the KHL. One thing the Wild lacked was scoring depth and they can certainly provide that. It’s probably time to say goodbye to older players like Zach Parise, Mats Zuccarello, Marcus Foligno, Ryan Suter, Marcus Johansson, Nick Bonino, and Ian Cole. Jared Spurgeon is 32 and serving as the captain right now, but he is closer to the end as well. A tough decision was made letting 38 year old former captain Mikko Koivu go a few month before, so the team is willing to part with players who have slowed down.
With free agency and the expansion draft fast approaching, the Wild need to do some soul searching to determine what kind of team this will be moving forward. If they can’t convince Kaprizov to stay, winter is going to get a lot colder in Minnesota.
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