After Minnesota failed to make the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, the State of Hockey’s pro team turned its fortunes around in 2021. The Wild finished third in the West Division, pushing the co-President trophy winners Colorado and Vegas throughout the season.
Minnesota’s impressive 2021 campaign was hindered by a tough first-round playoff matchup against an elite Vegas team. They lost in seven games to one of the league’s top teams. But there was no denying the newly acquired anticipation surrounding the Wild.
The biggest change from the Wild’s underperforming 2020 team versus their surprisingly exciting and competitive 2021 roster? 2015 fifth-round pick, Calder Trophy recipient and budding sensation Kirill Kaprizov.
As I mentioned in podcast episode #2 as well, as my 2021-22 Central Division predictions, the Wild would take a huge hit both this season and moving forward if they failed to sign Kaprizov to either a short or long-term deal. Wild fans everywhere will rejoice, however, as their superstar is locked up for at least five more years. It did however come at a cost of $45 million dollars or $9 million annually.
Well… he is Kirill the Thrill, right?! 😉
The #mnwild has signed forward Kirill Kaprizov to a five-year, $45 million contract ($9 million average annual value) that goes through the 2025-26 season.
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— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) September 21, 2021
At just 24, Kaprizov currently boasts the best points-per-game percentage by a Wild player with 50 or more games played (via NHL.com). He ranks ahead of former Minnesota standouts in Marian Gaborik, Zach Parise, Thomas Vanek, Mikko Kouivo, and more.
Looking at perhaps the best Wild player to ever dawn the forest green and iron range red, recently retired Captain Mikko Kouivo couldn’t compare to Kaprizov’s first year stats. When Kouivo was Kaprizov’s age (24), he managed to eclipse 54 points during that particular season compared to Kaprizov’s 51. However, factoring in the 82 games played for Kouivo and the 54 games for Kaprizov, it is clear that “Kirill the Thrill” scored at a much higher point-per-game pace.
Comparable contracts for Kaprizov include P.K. Subban, Dougie Hamilton, Cale Makar, and Jeff Skinner — each making $9 million a season. Notable contracts just south of Kaprizov’s $9M yearly salary include Sidney Crosby ($8.7M), Leon Draisaitl ($8.5M), and Sebastian Aho ($8.454M).When looking at the latter group, Kaprizov’s contract may be a tad bit of an overpayment considering all three players finished with at least 5+ points more points than the rookie. However, things like Kaprizov’s age and drastic improvement/excitement to the Wild fanbase also need to be taken into consideration. Furthermore, looking at his direct contract comparables, Kaprizov’s deal looks fair for both the team and the player.
The Wild lock up their most jaw dropping talent in years who is yet to enter his prime. Kaprizov, meanwhile, gets paid one of the more lofty contracts in the NHL.