Kirill Kaprizov, who captained the Russian junior national team last winter and is expected to be a member of their Olympic team in February, is a key prospect for the Wild, which took him in the fifth round in 2015.
There have been a few unsubstantiated Twitter rumors that the talented center is closing in on a long-term extension with CSKA Moscow, the Kontinental Hockey League team to which he was recently traded.
Wild GM Chuck Fletcher doesn’t believe the rumors.
“We’ve been in contact with his agent over the last couple weeks and we haven’t been made aware of anything,” Fletcher said. “We’re operating under the assumption he’s got a year left. He’s going to play for CSKA, and then he’s interested in coming over and playing for the Wild for the ’18-’19 season. He’s a heck of a player. I think he’ll be ready to step in and be a good hockey player for us a year from now. That’s our expectation and our hope. We haven’t been notified of anything to the contrary.”
When Fletcher says suit up for the Wild, he means 100 percent with Minnesota, not Iowa. It has been communicated to the Wild that Kaprizov, only wants to play in the NHL and Fletcher says, “I think he can play this year, personally. But certainly another year of experience and he’ll be that much more ready to play and contribute and be a good player.”
Kaprizov led the world junior tournament with nine goals and set an KHL record for players younger than 20 with 42 points (20 goals) in 49 games.
Planning for Vegas
Fletcher just completed his meetings with Bruce Boudreau and the coaching staff, the pro scouts and the rest of the front office.
Of course, the Wild will lose a player to the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft on June 21.
“We have a lot of ideas, but there’s some challenges obviously and we’re still talking to other teams and speaking to Vegas, and I think we have a better idea of what’s possible,” Fletcher said. “Again, there’s only so much you can control. We’ll just continue the conversations and see how things play out.”
Fletcher, who currently doesn’t own a first- or second-round pick, will attend the scouting combine next week in Buffalo in large part to talk to other teams and maybe some agents.
“The combine will be important obviously from the standpoint of preparing for the entry draft, but I think it’ll also be a very good opportunity to speak to a lot of different teams and see if there’s a fit in terms of making a trade,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher said he has not set up anything official yet with the agents of potential restricted free agents Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter: “Over the next few weeks, we’ll sit down. That’s our plan, but I don’t have anything officially set up right now.”
• Boudreau had arthroscopic knee surgery Friday.