There are plenty of great NHL Rookies this season, but they have on problem. That problem is that their rookie season is in the same season as Kirill Kaprizov’s rookie season. I think that Kirill is an absolute lock for the Calder this season, even with 45 games and change left in this season. Important to note that he, along with his team, is waiting for their teams current COVID outbreak to subside, we are all hoping nothing serious comes out of it.
There is only one player I can honestly compare Kirill Kaprizov too when it comes to this rookie season, and that is Artemi Panarin. Both of these players have had similar paths to the NHL, and I am certain that both of these players will have similar success. Before coming over to the NHL, Panarin played 305 combined games in the KHL, putting up 83 goals, and 129 assists for 212 points. Add on a 2011 WJC Gold, and 2015 Gagarin Cup win. Its absolutely insane to watch a player just slow down the game at will.
Here are some KHL highlights:
This is a similar path to the NHL, except that Minnesota took a gamble on drafting him instead of trying to convince him to come over as a free agent. In my opinion, Kaprizov looks even better than Panarin did coming over to North America with even more hardware. Before even making a move to the NHL he got a 2018 Gold Medal the Olympics with the OAR, a Silver and Bronze and WJC’s and a Bronze at the World Cup. He is also looking like a complete snag as the Wild used a 5th round pick in 2015 to get him, a 5th round pick they got in a trade from Boston.
With all of that I haven’t even touched the KHL numbers Kaprizov put up before coming over the pond. In 344 combined KHL games, Kaprizov put up 124 goals and 137 assists. He was the KHL’s top sniper of 2019 and 2020, the Priceless Player of 2019, and went to 5 consecutive All-Star Games from 2016-2020. In 2019 he and CSKA Moscow went on to win the 2019 Gagarin Cup where he put up 14 points in 19 games. Forget to mention he has been to the Gagarin Cup Final twice. That is an insane number of points and accolades for someone who is getting close to turning 24. Add some sugar to hit? His first NHL goal was an OT winner, on top of that it was a breakaway.
Here it is:
Minnesota has been hesitant to draft Russian players out of the KHL considering they are so hard to convince to bring over, especially players like Kirill with massive success in the KHL. Honestly, drafting Kap in the 5th round may have been one of the biggest brained moves ever by Chuck Fletcher.
I like to call Phil Myers on the Philadelphia Flyers, Found Money Myers, since he was a undrafted free agent and his now a Top 4 d-man for the Flyers. Kaprizov may just steal that nickname away from him in my heart consider he was a low-risk 5th round selection.
Now, I know that the Wild are not playing right now thanks to some COVID. But before the team stopped playing, Kap was on the third line, and on the first powerplay unit. In just 11 games he has wasted no time turning heads around the NHL and in the locker room. With 9 points in 11 games, he is making a serious push to Calder. The Wild had two more games postponed at the time of this writing and so the Wild won’t be taking the ice until after February 13th. The team they most recently played against; the Colorado Avalanche also won’t be back playing until the 14th.
This hiatus has allowed the only other competition Kaprizov had, that being Tim Stutzle, to catch up in points. In all honesty, when the Wild come back Kap will be right back at it, and leave Stutzle behind. I would absolutely consider the Wild a contender in their division behind Colorado and Vegas. This alone will propel Kaprizov up in Calder voting. In my opinion the guy is a dead lock.
Kaprizov for Calder.