Kirill Kaprizov has ignited the NHL this season with his electrifying play and energized personality. There was tremendous hype about him before he even played a minute. He is the rare case of a much-ballyhooed prospect who actually exceeded the expectations placed on him. The sky is the limit for the young superstar.
Kaprizov started his path to the NHL in Novokuznetsk Russia where he was born in 1997. After being drafted first in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) Junior Draft in 2014, he made a steady climb up the Russian Hockey ladder. His last stop was with CSKA Moscow where he became the youngest player in KHL history to score his100th career goal.
Kirill was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the fifth round of the 2015 National Hockey League (NHL) Entry Draft. This was the same draft where Connor McDavid was chosen first overall. Above all, the Wild understood that Kaprizov was a long-term investment. They knew they would not see him in a team uniform for several years.
On July 13, 2020, Kirill Kaprizov signed a two-year entry level deal with the Wild. The contract included the 2019-2020 season so the first year of the deal was burned. Right after the signing, the anticipation for his arrival started to build. The organization did everything they could to tamp down pressure on the young player but Kaprizov fever was running wild among the Wild fandom.
Kirill wasted no time making his presence known. In his very first game in a Wild jersey, he tallied three points including the game winning overtime goal against the Los Angeles Kings. With that goal, he became only the third player in NHL history to score an overtime goal in his debut.
Kaprizov is already one of the most exciting players in the league. He is a grown man, but he plays with the excitement of a youth hockey player. You can hear the buzz in the arena every time he touches the puck. And with good reason. He somehow has the ability to find space in a crowded offensive zone and with a flick of the wrist, the puck is in the net.
He also has two wraparound goals this year that are simply incredible. They are a testament to his skill, strength, and determination as a player. After you check out these two video clips, you’ll understand what I am talking about.
He should be a shoo-in for the Calder Trophy (NHL Rookie of the Year) as he leads all rookies in scoring. And with his thirty-seventh point this season, he broke the Wild’s franchise record for points by a rookie, previously held by Marian Gaborik.
The future looks bright for both the Minnesota Wild and for ‘Dolla Bill,” Kaprizov’s nickname in Minnesota. He should be one of the NHL’s elite players for years to come and should help increase attendance at games wherever he plays. And the Wild hope he will be the catalyst that leads them to their first NHL Championship.