Wild looking to sign top prospect Kirill Kaprizov, though he'd be ineligible for playoffs
By Sarah McLellan Star Tribune JULY 12, 2020 — 11:43PM
The wait for Kirill Kaprizov will be over soon.
Well, sort of.
Kaprizov isn’t eligible to play the rest of this season and can’t suit up for the Wild’s qualifying matchup against Vancouver as part of the NHL’s 24-team return, but the team is allowed to sign the prized prospect to a two-year, entry-level contract starting Monday.
The Wild has until 4 p.m. Wednesday to sign Kaprizov to a deal that starts with the 2019-20 season and burn that first year instead of signing him to a contract that begins in 2020-21, when he would be able to play.
Wild General Manager Bill Guerin said Sunday he would be willing to do that since the 23-year-old could participate in training camp and accompany the team to Edmonton for its games.
“To have him in the mix and have him signed would be nice,” Guerin said. “If he could come over and get to know the area, meet some of his future teammates, see how things are done here, I think that would definitely be an advantage.”
Guerin wasn’t sure if Kaprizov would need to quarantine upon arriving in Minnesota.
The Russian winger, who the Wild drafted in the fifth round in 2015, has spent the past three seasons with CSKA Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League. He finished the KHL’s top goal scorer for a second straight year, burying 33 goals in 57 games. Winning a gold medal at the 2018 Olympics and a bronze at the 2017 World Junior Championship have made the talented scorer one of the most intriguing players not in the NHL.
If Kaprizov signs a contract that begins with 2019-20, the deal can’t include a signing bonus or performance bonus for that season. It can contain a signing bonus for 2020-21. Unsigned draft choices can sign contracts that begin with the 2020-21 season, also starting Monday.
Coach Dean Evason could have the interim label removed from his title soon. Evason took over for the fired Bruce Boudreau on Feb. 14 and became a strong candidate by going 8-4 before the shutdown.
Guerin has been pleased with how Evason has handled the interruption to the season and complimented him for his communication skills. Evason’s candidacy to take over on a permanent basis won’t hinge on how far the Wild goes this postseason.
“I’m not going to do that,” Guerin said. “It’s more about the process and the operation and the communication, all those things. I know he knows the game. I know he knows how to deal with players. Those are the good things.
“I’m comfortable with Dean. I like Dean.”
• Guerin isn’t expecting any Wild players to opt out of the remainder of the season. Players have until 4 p.m. Monday to notify their teams they want to sit out.
• Forward Luke Kunin, who has Type 1 diabetes, has been cleared for camp. “He’s been in, and he’s healthy and doing great,” Guerin said. “We haven’t been told anything by Luke or anything, and he hasn’t shown any concerns.”
• Guerin said the Penguins still have time to decide if they want to defer the first-round draft pick owed to the Wild from the Jason Zucker trade until next year. Like the Wild, Pittsburgh is restarting in the qualifying round and has a 1-in-8 chance to win the No. 1 pick if it fails to advance.
• Defensive prospect Calen Addison, whom the Wild also received in the Zucker trade, has been invited to camp — the only non-Iowa Wild addition.
• The Wild can start re-signing players Monday, an opportunity Guerin isn’t opposed to exploring. Kunin and Jordan Greenway are among the restricted free agents, and Kevin Fiala, Marcus Foligno and Jonas Brodin will be eligible for extensions.
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