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Kirill Kaprizov working on getting to U.S., joining Wild

Sarah McKellan, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Hockey

The Wild is still working to get Kirill Kaprizov to join the team after signing the prized prospect to a two-year contract on Monday, but the team already has a personalized No. 97 jersey to present to him when he arrives.

"I think it looks pretty good," General Manager Bill Guerin said. "Can't wait to give this to you in person, Kirill."

Kaprizov was introduced to the local media Wednesday during a video conference call, speaking from Moscow through an interpreter. He thought the process of getting signed by the Wild after the season ended would go smoother, but the pause in action caused by the coronavirus pandemic created some uncertainty about his status.

Ultimately, the Wild was able to sign him to a two-year entry-level contract that begins with the current season but he will be ineligible for the upcoming postseason tournament. Kaprizov, however, can practice with the team and travel to Edmonton for the games.

"He's grateful for his agent and for the team and for everybody who helped him in this process," said translator Alex Buzi. "He knows everybody's waiting for him, and he can't wait to put on the jersey himself, as well. He hopes that's going to happen sometime as soon as next week, and he's really eager and excited to join the team."

Initially drafted in the fifth round in 2015, the 23-year-old Kaprizov was the leading goal scorer in the Kontinental Hockey League the last two seasons and the winger isn't expecting a difficult transition to NHL ice.

"I don't think it will be a huge difference," he said. "Obviously, this is the best league in the world, and I have always looked forward (to playing in the NHL). But it's a game of hockey, and it's just playing the game and enjoying it. I hope I am going to do really well."

Kaprizov won't be paid for this season, but he will earn $832,500 next season and receive a $92,500 signing bonus. He can also pocket up to $925,000 in performance bonuses.

 

Once he's done with this contract, Kaprizov can only negotiate and sign with the Wild and will be ineligible for an offer sheet from another team. He also won't have arbitration rights.

He not only scored the most goals in the Kontinental Hockey League in each of the past two seasons, most recently racking up 33, but he became the youngest player in KHL history to record 100 career goals when he hit the mark in October as a 22-year-old.

He's also a winner, claiming the Gagarin Cup with CSKA Moscow in 2018-19 and capturing Olympic gold with Russia in 2018 after scoring the overtime game-winning goal in the final game. In that tournament, he tied for first in goals (five) and tied for second in scoring (nine).

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