Kirill Kaprizov didn’t make it to the bubble in Edmonton, Alberta, but he arrived in Minnesota on Monday evening to begin getting acclimated to the Wild and Twin Cities after signing a two-year, entry-level contract last month ahead of his NHL debut next season.
“He’s on his way, and he’s going to stick around here for a little while,” General Manager Bill Guerin said.
This is the 23-year-old Russian star’s first time in the United States and only his second visit to North America.
Once he’s done quarantining, the Wild plans to show him the area and possibly even help him find a home.
“Hopefully, some of the players are still around that we can introduce him to,” Guerin said. “Just kind of let him get a feel of the place.”
Even though Kaprizov’s long-awaited addition to the Wild lineup should boost the team’s skill, Guerin is managing expectations for the newcomer, who has to adapt to life in the NHL and a new country.
“We’re all hoping he comes in and just lights the world on fire,” Guerin said. “That’s what we hope, but this is a very good league. It’s the best league in the world with the best players in the world, and he hasn’t played here yet. There’s an adjustment period. So yeah, we don’t want to put the weight of the world on his shoulders, and we’re not going to.
“He’s coming into a brand-new culture, a brand-new team, limited English, brand-new league. There could be some growing pains. Hopefully, it goes smooth. Hopefully. it goes great; I’m hoping for that. But it could take time as well.”
Focus on discipline
Kevin Fiala took five penalties in the playoffs, with a few of those appearing to stem from frustration.
The coaches have stressed to him that he has to be even more disciplined because of the attention he receives from the opposition, and they will continue to relay that message.
“He’s aware of that,” coach Dean Evason said. “Sometimes it takes people more than one opportunity to learn from a situation. Hopefully, this is the last time that he has to learn from it.”
Spotlight on Sturm
Rookie Nico Sturm had the trust of the coaches in the playoffs, earning ice time in overtime and late in the second period when he scored his first NHL goal in Game 4.
He will vie for a permanent roster spot at training camp after being a call-up from the minors during the regular season.
“It makes me excited for hopefully next year to see that the coaching staff knows that I cannot only skate around out there and participate in the games but I can have a meaningful impact,” Sturm said.
“That was something that I really felt as a player was different compared to December was I was not just another player filling a role out there, that the coach can put me into those spots on the third or fourth line, on the PK, and that I can contribute to the success of the team there.”
New director of amateur scouting Judd Brackett has “settled in nicely” since getting hired in early July to oversee the Wild’s draft ahead of what Guerin feels is a deep 2020 pool.
“We’re going to get good players,” Guerin said. “We know that.”
Pittsburgh has a week to notify the Wild if it plans to send the team its first-round pick from this year or 2021 as part of the Jason Zucker trade.
• Guerin said defenseman Greg Pateryn, who missed the postseason because of an upper-body injury, will have surgery and will be ready around December, when the 2020-21 season is scheduled to start.
• Despite this season being his first full one with the Wild, defenseman Carson Soucy will be a free agent this offseason. Since he’s completed three or more pro seasons, is 25 years or older, and has played less than 76 NHL games (a threshold that was prorated to take into account the shortened regular season), the 26-year-old Soucy will become a Group 6 unrestricted free agent.
• “There’s no real rush,” Guerin said, for him to meet with captain Mikko Koivu to discuss the future. Koivu’s contract has expired.
• Guerin said he’s “not a big fan” of buyouts and would use one as a last resort.