Kirill Kaprizov was always a Calder Trophy contender heading into the 2020-21 NHL season given all the hype and the fanfare surrounding his arrival in North America, but I don’t think any of us was expecting to see the jaw-dropping show that the Russian is currently putting on.
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Alexis Lafreniere, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, obviously dominated the Calder Trophy conversation during the offseason, as did the likes of LA Kings prospect Quinton Byfield, Anaheim Ducks forward Trevor Zegras and New York Islanders goalie Ilya Samsonov.
Lafreniere has four points (2 G, 2 A) in 19 games and but will no doubt get better as the year progresses, Byfield has yet to make his NHL debut, Zegras only has a couple of games under his belt and there isn’t a big enough of a sample size to properly judge Samsonov yet.
What we do know, however, is that Kirill Kaprizov has been the standout rookie of the 2020-21 season so far and, not only do I expect him to run away with the Calder Trophy, but I think he’s on pace to carve out a rookie year for the ages. As such, we should be talking about the 23-year-old a lot more.
We need to talk about stud forward Kirill Kaprizov a lot more
While we already knew that the left-shot had star potential due to his exploits in the KHL, his transition to North America has been seamless and he’s rapidly morphing into the kind of bona-fide star that this Minnesota Wild franchise has craved for years.
Boasting an abundance of elite skill, creativity, vision and a killer instinct, you just get the sense that anything could happen when Kaprizov has the puck on his stick and he’s one of the most fun young players that we’ve had the pleasure to watch in quite some time.
He’s just electric.
It seems like every single night the forward develops new ways to wow us, new ways to leave us impressed and Minnesota fans must be absolutely head over heels in love with their rookie and newest star, who has everything you need to become the true face of this franchise for years to come.
I mean, look at this goal from the Wild’s 4-3 Overtime win over the LA Kings on Saturday, which improved Minnesota to 12-6-0 on the year. Known for his silky skill, Kaprizov also showed off his shot and awareness by latching onto a loose puck before firing it into the net to give his team a 3-0 lead.
It was Kaprizov’s sixth goal of the year and he has 17 points (6 G, 11 A) in 18 games with a plus / minus rating of +9, averaging 18:07 of total ice time and playing a huge role for this Minnesota Wild team. He has come up clutch on a number of occasions and he’s only going to get better which is the scary thing.
The most impressive aspect of Kirill Kaprizov’s game, however, is his skating which is really something to behold. I mean, if you want a lesson and a clinic in skating and edge work, just watch the below clip:
Welcome to the Kirill Kaprizov skating clinic. 😱
— NHL (@NHL) February 25, 2021
Kaprizov makes it look easy and the way he can just glide around the ice while protecting the puck on his stick is just breathtaking, I mean he makes it look effortless and there may not be a stronger or prettier skater in the NHL right now than Kaprizov. That’s how good he is.
Currently leading all rookies in points (17), assists (11) and plus / minus (+9), Kirill Kaprizov is not only looking like he could win the Calder Trophy going away in 2020-21, but he’s also producing magic on the ice and flashing all the signs we need to know that he is going to be an absolute star in the National Hockey League for the Minnesota Wild for a long, long time, and we should be talking about him and his mouthwatering exploits on the ice a hell of a lot more.