3. Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota Wild
Kirill Kaprizov took home Rookie of the Year honors last season with 51 points in 55 games, and now a year later, he’s in the MVP conversation as one of the elite players in the league.
On the season, the 24-year-old Russian has 19 goals, 34 assists, and 53 points, all of which are the top marks by any Wild player this year. He also carries a plus-19 rating and has scored three game-winning goals. In terms of NHL ranks, he is eighth in points and tied for ninth in assists.
In turn, the Minnesota Wild have excelled this season, as their 28-10-3 record has them in third place in the Central Division and second place in the Western Conference in point percentage. What’s more, Kaprizov’s club is currently on a ten-game point streak.
The former fifth-round pick is actually in the midst of a 12-game point streak himself, which would tie a franchise record and match that of teammate Kevin Fiala (which is active). However, he missed a game in the middle of his streak, so technically, it does not count as a 12-game streak.
Regardless, Kaprizov has points in his last 12 games, and in the nine games that he has played during the Wild’s point streak, he has six goals and eight assists. In addition, he has five multi-point games in that span.
What makes Kaprizov valuable to me is the fact that he leads an offensively-driven team in all offensive categories. Minnesota is third in the NHL in goals per game with 3.8, and he is one goal, six assists, and 11 points clear of his next closest teammates. Kaprizov has done the heavy lifting, and it has propelled his team.
Without Kaprizov, the Wild would be scratching and clawing just to grab a wild card spot. With him, they’re fighting for a top-two position in the Central.