There is no question that Kirill Kaprizov, 26, is the Russian Superstar of the Minnesota Wild. After a breakout rookie season where he won the Calder Memorial Trophy, Kaprizov has continued breaking record after record for the Minnesota Wild. With three more seasons left on his current contract, there is no doubt that more club records will fall. But after a disappointing show in last year’s playoffs, Kaprizov might need to regain some trust from fans.
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While Kaprizov’s scoring was on pace for another 100+ point season, an unfortunate injury forced him to the sidelines for a month. He still managed to eke out 75 points in 67 games. Even before the injury, however, Kaprizov went through a scoring drought that thankfully was covered by teammate Matt Boldy going on a tear. Kaprizov’s invisible presence in the playoffs led to questions about whether he was healed. While Kaprizov insisted he was back to normal, he scored one lone goal for his only playoff point. Compared to the playoffs in 2021-2022, where he had eight points, it doesn’t look good.
Kaprizov is known around the league not only for his prolific scoring but also for his incredible skating abilities. Somehow able to dance around defenders, it sometimes seems as though Kaprizov would skate right off the ice and down the street if someone opened the door. Despite his first-line star status, he has the work effort of a fourth-liner. Gritty and determined, Kaprizov isn’t afraid to battle along the boards.
There aren’t many, to be honest. As someone who genuinely loves playing hockey, Kaprizov can occasionally take things too far. In difficult games, he has the ability to find a higher gear, toss the team on his back, and carry them to a win. But doing that too frequently can lead to exhaustion and injuries. As seen with last season’s hip injury, Kaprizov was ready to get back on the ice long before he was medically cleared. The other possible weakness is his friendship with Mats Zuccarello. When they click, it leads to plenty of points on the board. But other times, Zuccarello and Kaprizov end up playing keep away with the puck instead of shooting. They need to make sure that they aren’t passing up prime-scoring opportunities.
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It isn’t hard to make a prediction for Kaprizov. Another 100+ point season seems like a given for him. Hopefully, Kaprizov has had plenty of rest over the off-season to make sure any injuries he sustained last season have been rehabbed. After frustration over his performance in the playoffs, Kaprizov might need to show off a little at the beginning of the season. But Kaprizov has shown Minnesota fans enough of his skills over the past three seasons that any doubts will be put to rest quickly.