There are a lot of great forwards in the NHL. There is some disparity between the center and wing positions and for a few good reasons.
For starters, the top centermen are often times lauded as much for their defensive game as they are for their offense.
Still, that offensive ability is what attracts eyes to the product and there are a few that do it better than the rest. On the left side of the ice, there are few better right now than the Minnesota Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov.
Nonetheless, Kaprizov can definitely boost the Minnesota Wild 2022 NHL Future odds.
How it Started
Kaprizov’s case is an interesting one. Taken with the 135th pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, it isn’t a case of no one believing that Kaprizov lacked talent. As a matter of fact, he was considered to be one of the sleepers of the entire draft.
The reason for his fall so late into the draft was his commitment to Metallurg Novokuznetsk of the KHL in Russia. Because of that commitment, where he displayed dazzling skill among much older players, he would not sign his entry-level deal until prior to the 2020-21 season. Even then, Kaprizov did not debut until January of 2021 against the Los Angeles Kings.
Despite only playing 55 games during the 2020-21 season, Kaprizov did not disappoint. He potted 27 goals and 51 points as a rookie, providing a level of flare and flash that had never been previously seen in the Wild organization.
It became quickly apparent that he not only had a future in Minnesota but that he would be a force in the league. The Wild had been searching for their franchise player and finally found him in the 5th round of all places.
Kirill Kaprizov was absolutely FLYING on this play. 💨 pic.twitter.com/Ujv5LHc8Wb
— NHL (@NHL) April 30, 2022
How It Is Going
Year one was just the appetizer as far as Kaprizov and the Wild were concerned. In year two, he took his game to a whole new level and entered into official superstar status. The Wild enjoyed one of the best seasons in franchise history, finishing just behind division and eventual Stanley Cup-winner, the Colorado Avalanche.
Kaprizov suited up in all but one of the Wild’s 82 games. In that time, he set career-bests in goals (47), assists (61), and points (108). All three of those are single-season franchise records by a mile. All in his first full season with the franchise.
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) May 5, 2022
The competition is stiff, though it also depends on whether you look at his position (left wing) or all of the wingers in the league. When it comes to just the left side, there can be an argument made that he is the best of the bunch.
The only one who compares right now is Matthew Tkachuk of Florida. The 24-year-old winger posted career-highs in goals (42), assists (62), and points (104) with Calgary before being dealt to the Sunshine State in the off-season.
When you expand the list, there are a few other comparable names. Mitch Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs continues to be one of the top names on the right side. He is a prolific playmaker alongside star center Auston Matthews, routinely hovering around the 100-point mark.
Mikko Rantanen of the Avalanche, also on the right wing, is another name that deserves to in the discussion for the best wingers in the league. If anything, he is a bit underrated. Rantanen is a three-time 30+ goal scorer with the Avalanche, holding a prominent spot on one of the best lines in the entire league.
Kaprizov has etched his place among the best of the best on either wing. His dynamic style of play leads many to wonder if he could threaten Matthews as the king of goal-scoring in the NHL in the coming season and beyond.
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) May 8, 2022
What Does the Future Hold for Kaprizov?
So, the million dollar question – hundred million dollar question, really – is what the future holds for Kaprizov and the Wild. The Wild and Kaprizov recently came to terms on a contract extension of 5 years and $45 million.
Kaprizov is tied up for the immediate future, taking him to the age of 30. He is likely entering the prime of his career and will only reach new heights in the coming seasons. It also gives the Wild the chance to seriously contend for a Stanley Cup championship.
That is also taking into consideration that the salary cap will continue to rise in the coming season. Before long, that $9 million annual salary cap hit could seem like a bargain for what is one of the top wingers in the league.
At 25 years old, Kaprizov is only going to get better. He plays with an underrated playmaker in Mats Zuccarello and is more than capable of producing his own offense whenever he wants.
Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov leaves Russia, will return to Minnesota Tuesday: Sources
— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) August 1, 2022
Credits on Featured Image: Amy Meredith on Flickr