RALEIGH, N.C. – General Manager Bill Guerin was in Carolina on Saturday as the Wild wrapped up its three-game road trip, but he was keeping tabs from Russia earlier in the week.
Guerin was in Moscow last Sunday through Tuesday to meet prized prospect Kirill Kaprizov, a visit he felt was a success.
“I just wanted to go over and see him play and spend some time with him, a little face time,” Guerin said. “Kind of a get-to-know-you trip because I think when that day comes, I’d like him just to know who he’s dealing with. It went really well.”
The two had dinner with Kaprizov’s agent and Wild European scout Ivan Nepriaev, and both helped Guerin and Kaprizov communicate — although Guerin said Kaprivoz’s English is “better than he gives himself credit for.”
Before the meal, Guerin watched Kaprizov play. Through 31 games with CSKA Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League, the 22-year-old has 16 goals and 30 points.
“He’s extremely talented,” Guerin said. “He made plays. He’s not afraid to go play in traffic. There’s a lot to like.”
Kaprizov has expressed his plan to join the Wild when his contract is up after this season. Asked if Kaprizov reiterated that intention, Guerin said: “I didn’t want to put that pressure on him. He’s playing for CSKA right now, and I just want him to focus on that and not worry about next year. Just continue to have a good year, and we’ll figure things out when their season’s done.”
Wild captain Mikko Koivu didn’t finish out the road trip, returning home early after suffering a lower-body injury Tuesday at Florida, and it’s unclear how long he might be sidelined with the issue.
Koivu will at least be out for the start of the team’s three-game homestand since the earliest he would be eligible to play after getting placed on injured reserve is Thursday. That means he won’t suit up Tuesday after the Wild honors him in a pregame ceremony for recently appearing in his 1,000th career game.
“I just think he hates missing games in general,” Guerin said. “He’s been a big part of the turnaround in the season here, so I know he’s frustrated. For us, the most important thing right now is Mikko takes the time and gets healthy.”
Defenseman Greg Pateryn was also moved to injured reserve Friday because of a lower-body injury.
Pateryn, who has been out the entire season after undergoing core muscle surgery, was on a conditioning stint with Iowa in the American Hockey League when he experienced what Guerin described as a setback.
The Wild rolled out the same set of players Saturday as it did Thursday at Tampa Bay, scratching defenseman Brennan Menell and center Nico Sturm after they were recalled in recent days.
But the two will get a chance to play when the team is back home, coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Sturm was the latest to arrive after getting added from Iowa on Friday, and this is his second stint with the Wild; he debuted late last season after leaving college to turn pro and was among the final cuts at training camp in September.
“It’s very exciting,” Sturm said. “[I] worked hard down there, and I knew I had to be patient.”
Nanne in the booth
Former North Stars GM Lou Nanne was in the broadcast booth for the Wild’s road trip, taking on the color analyst duties for Fox Sports North.
Although he is usually most remembered for his tenure with the North Stars, which also included a run as coach, Nanne is no stranger to a microphone. He has helped cover the high school state tournament since the 1960s and has worked for “Hockey Night in Canada,” CBS, NBC and ABC.
“I just enjoy it,” said Nanne, who will be back for three home games this season. “Keeps you close to the game.”