Kirill Kaprizov was on the ice Thursday morning at Tria Rink in St. Paul for the primary follow of Wild coaching camp, participation that ought to not have been notable.
The star ahead has performed just one season of a plump five-year, $45 million contract, and his subsequent launch is extremely anticipated after his earlier record-breaking efficiency.
But Kaprizov’s capability to rejoin the Wild was questioned over the summer time as uncertainty elevated for Russian NHLers whereas the conflict in Ukraine continued, ambiguity that was ultimately cleared up when the 25-year-old returned to Minnesota in August.
“We’re simply glad that he’s right here,” General Manager Bill Guerin mentioned. “We’re glad that he’s secure and wholesome and prepared to go, and he’s excited.
“That’s behind us.”
Speculation about Kaprizov’s whereabouts and whether or not he might journey to the United States intensified in July main up to the NHL draft after a report out of Russia mentioned Kaprizov got here to the US in the aftermath of Philadelphia prospect Ivan Fedotov getting taken to a army base in Russia as a result of his identify was linked to fraudulent army identification.
At the time, Guerin denied that report, telling reporters Kaprizov was in Russia with family and friends and “doing nice.” But Kaprizov’s standing remained unclear till he arrived again in the Twin Cities on Aug. 2. Kaprizov wanted a piece visa, and Guerin mentioned the Wild had “some very, very particular folks” serving to safe that.
“It was harder than we thought it was going to be,” Guerin mentioned. “We simply had some points getting him again in the US. We did get assist from some associates in Washington DC, and we’re extraordinarily grateful for that.
“Kirill was actually affected person. Did exactly what he had to do. It was only a actually powerful time for him.”
With his linemate Mats Zuccarello by his facet, Kaprizov was requested after follow Thursday in regards to the state of affairs, however Zuccarello was the primary to reply, “We’re not going to speak about that. We’re solely like hockey questions.”
Kaprizov, nevertheless, did point out via an interpreter that he wasn’t apprehensive about making it again for the season earlier than ultimately saying, “If we might simply maintain the questions to hockey-related subjects at the moment, I believe that’d be greatest .”
While Guerin mentioned he did not consider Kaprizov was in a place that was “life-threatening or something like that,” he did acknowledge the Wild did not learn about Kaprizov’s security initially. Guerin mentioned he wasn’t certain if this might stay a difficulty for Kaprizov.
“As lengthy as he’s right here, he’s nice and issues are good,” Guerin mentioned. “Just let him concentrate on hockey.”
Based on what Kaprizov has proven to date, the hockey needs to be fascinating.
After getting topped the NHL’s prime rookie following his debut season with the Wild, Kaprizov was much more spectacular in his encore: 47 targets, 61 assists and 108 factors, all staff information and manufacturing that made him the Wild’s first 100-point participant and a top-five scorer in the league. He even obtained some MVP consideration, ending seventh in voting for the Hart Trophy; by no means extra did he look the half than in the playoffs when he had seven targets in six video games in opposition to Central Division rival St. Louis.
His line with Zuccarello and Ryan Hartman, who’re additionally coming off their greatest seasons with the Wild, was reunited at camp, and the trio figures to be key in the Wild’s pursuit to repair the glitch that noticed essentially the most profitable common season in franchise historical past. fizzle into yet one more first-round exit. Not since 2015 has the staff superior.
“Every season, I would like to be higher and higher on a regular basis,” Kaprizov mentioned via an interpreter, “like staff outcomes and myself.”
What’s higher than 100 factors?
“Two hundred,” Zuccarello mentioned.
The quip elicited laughs, however the concept that Kaprizov and everybody else who had profession years can keep away from turning into a one-hit marvel is tangible to the Wild.
“The problem has been issued,” Guerin mentioned. “We want you to do it once more. Let that be the usual in your sport as a result of when you do it as soon as, you are able to do it once more.”
When it comes to Kaprizov, one other one-up may be extra sensible.
“I do not assume we have seen essentially the most from Kirill,” Guerin mentioned. “He’s a particular participant.”