Not long after KHL Insider Aivis Kalnins tweeted that stud Wild prospect Kirill Kaprizov would be signing a three-year extension with CSKA Moscow, the Kontinental Hockey League seems to have confirmed the news and quoted team President Igor Esmantovich as saying, “He will stay in Russia for next three years.”
Looks like Kaprizov is not going across the pond in a near future. pic.twitter.com/fs6MAs5VMa— KHL (@khl_eng) July 7, 2017
Wild GM Chuck Fletcher or Senior VP of Hockey Operations Brent Flahr declined to comment in large part because right now there has been no confirmation and we're all relying on hearsay.
The league tweeted, the team has not and Kaprizov seems to have been quoted here as saying, via google translate, he hasn't decided beyond next season and still has time to think about this three-year proposal.
This would be a big blow to the Wild's prospect pool. While Joel Eriksson Ek and Luke Kunin will vie for roster spots next season, the Wild just traded Alex Tuch and Jordan Greenway is returning to Boston University. Remember, the Wild also traded its 2017 first-round pick and 2018 second-round pick in the Martin Hanzal package and has no seconds in 2014, 2016 and 2017.
I have left a voicemail and sent an email to Kaprizov's North American agent, although lately, I have gotten the impression that Kaprizov may be acting independently of his North American agents and they're not completely in the loop with everything going on over there.
As of this moment, I have not heard back from Kaprizov's agent about today’s news.
The Wild had hoped to sign its 2015 fifth-round pick after this coming season and put him right onto the Minnesota team in 2018-19. Obviously, that doesn’t look like it’ll happen anymore.
Typically a player has to buy himself out of his contract to get loose unless there are out-clauses. While I'm pretty sure he was due to make $70,000 US this upcoming season, some have speculated the next deal could be around $1 million a year US, which is about comparable to an NHL entry-level deal.
The good news is Kaprizov is only 20 years old. Even if the Wild doesn't find a way to get him over here until three years from now, he'll still be a very young, very good, more refined hockey player and the same age of many college players turning pro.
Also, there's no transfer agreement between the NHL and KHL, so the way I understand it, the Wild owns his NHL rights essentially forever. They're not in danger of losing his rights if unsigned four years from his draft year like other drafted players.
Kaprizov captained Team Russia at the world junior championships and led the entire tournament with nine goals. He set an Under 20 KHL record this season with 42 points (20 goals) in 49 games.
TSN analyst Ray Ferraro told me in January of Kaprizov, "He was the heartbeat of that team, their captain. He’s not a super big guy. He’s got more of a short, stocky build, but he was aggressive on the puck, he hunts it, he’s a little chippy, he can score, he shoots on the move. The one question is if he can play at the pace that he needs to play at. The tough part is, ‘How do you know?’ He’s got to get over here and play. But when the rest of the Russian team kind of meanders their way around, he doesn’t. He doesn’t play a European game.”
As I've mentioned a gazillion times, signability is why so many Russian players fall so far in NHL drafts. Teams just don't know when they'll get them here, if they'll ever get them here or if they can keep them here. There is that much pressure on the good ones to stay in Russia.
Bottom line: the Wild thinks the world of him and wanted him to play in the NHL in 2018-19 or at least 2019-20. But his future in the NHL is uncertain.
Remember, nobody from the Wild has even physically met Kaprizov. He didn't come to the 2015 draft, and at the most recent world juniors, Team Russia wouldn't let the Wild sit down with Kaprizov. Instead, members of the front office met with Kaprizov's agent and girlfriend and even delivered to them his draft jersey for the first time.
If he wants to play in the NHL, the Wild's waiting with open arms. If he doesn't, there's nothing the Wild can do.