Wild hope to give Kaprizov a long-term contract

Kirill Kaprizov has entered negotiations with the Minnesota Wild, who hope to award the forward a new long-term contract, general manager Bill Guerin said Thursday.

“We love Kirill and what he’s brought to our team, I don’t think it’s a secret,” Guerin said. We will all do what we can to come to a fair deal.

“We would prefer a long agreement. There are two sides to the coin. You have to be open to all possibilities. Like I said, it’s a process, so there will be a lot of discussion between the two parties. « 

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Kaprizov, finalist for the Calder Trophy, awarded annually to the best rookie in the NHL, could become a free agent with compensation on July 28.

The 24-year-old Russian has led all NHL rookies in goals (27), points (51), power-play goals (eight) and shots (157) in 55 games with the Minnesota Wild. He was second in even strength points (38) and power play points (13), and third in differential (plus-10). He led the Wild in goals, points, points per game average (0.93) and overtime goals (two), and he had three game-winning goals. Kaprizov, who averaged 18:18 per game and maintained a 17.2 percent shooting percentage, recorded the highest total of goals, assists and points by a rookie in the history of the Wild.

“It’s great to be recognized, but the ultimate goal of [Kaprizov] is to win and win the Stanley Cup, ”said coach Dean Evason. “He says all the right things and he does all the right things. I’m not surprised he’s very humble about it all. This is the mentality that our group is trying to instill in our team, and we have made progress in that regard this season. « 

Video: VGK @ MIN: Kaprizov scores from the throw-in

Kaprizov led Minnesota (35-16-5) to third in the Western Honda section and to a place in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He had three points (two goals, one assist) as the Wild were eliminated in seven games by the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round.

Minnesota also hope to award a long-term contract to two other free agents with compensation, Joel Eriksson Ek and Kevin fiala.

Fiala amassed 40 points (20 goals, 20 assists) in 50 regular season games, second to the Wild in goals and points behind Kaprizov. The 24-year-old forward has two points (one goal, one assist) in the playoffs.

Eriksson Ek reached a career high in the NHL with 19 goals in 56 games (30 points). The 24-year-old center added three points (two goals, one assist) in the playoffs.

Video: MIN @ VGK # 1: Eriksson Ek wins the Wild in prol.

“We expect these players to be here for the long haul,” Guerin said. They are part of the foundation of this organization and this team. You could see on the ice – whether they like that word or not because they are young – that they are leaders in our team. And they made a huge contribution at each end of the rink. So yes, they are a priority. « 

Veteran attackers Marcus johansson, Nick bjugstad and Nick bonino as well as the defenders Ian cole and Brad hunt can all become free agents without compensation.

“We’re trying to build a team, not around one player,” Guerin said of Kaprizov. “We have a lot of good players. We have a lot of good young players. We’re trying to keep building around our emerging core, and Kirill is one of them. We will not be building around a single player. We want to avoid focusing too much on one player. There are a lot of other pieces that we will need to complete the puzzle. « 

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