3. Is Kirill Kaprizov a contender for the Calder Trophy?
There is a hell of a lot of excitement when it comes to Kirill Kaprizov’s impending arrival in the National Hockey League, and we at Puck Prose can’t wait to watch the talent explode onto the scene, as we mapped out here.
This has been a long time coming for Wild fans who have been craving a high-end game-changer, and Kaprizov certainly seems to fit that bill. He has that rare ability to be able to fill a whole building with excitement and sheer anticipation at what he’s going to do next, and that is something else that has been missing in Minnesota for quite some time.
Kaprizov is, in many ways, the spark this middling franchise needs and, if Training Camp is anything to go by, he is ready to light up the NHL and give Wild fans something to be excited about.
So, is the highly-skilled and hugely-talented winger a contender for the Calder Trophy?
On first glance, you have to say yes. Of course, New York Rangers forward Alexis Lafreniere, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, will be the favorite while the No. 2 overall pick, Quinton Byfield, could also win the honor if he has a strong rookie year with the LA Kings.
Then you have to consider the two Russian goalies in New York, Igor Shesterkin of the Rangers and Ilya Sorokin of the Islanders, while Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov is entering the 2020-21 season with a lot of buzz too.
Don’t forget the likes of Buffalo Sabres forward Dylan Cozens, who had a strong 2021 World Junior Championship for Team Canada with 16 points (8 G, 8 A), as did Trevor Zegras who led the entire tournament in points with 18 (7 G, 11 A) for Team USA and he could light it up for the Anaheim Ducks this year.
However, Kaprizov looks to be something special and his combination of speed, skill, high IQ, a long reach and a real hunger to just hustle should ensure that he’s a success in his rookie year, and he does boast the upside needed to really cause some damage. I mean, just look at the clip above.
So, while there is plenty of competition for the Calder Trophy in 2020-21, don’t be surprised if Kirill Kaprizov emerges as a finalist, especially if he morphs into an offensive juggernaut and leads this Minnesota team to the postseason.