Game of Chicken

Potential franchise player, Kirill Kaprizov, re-signs with the Minnesota Wild

Kirill Kaprizov wins Wild contract showdown

What’s Happening: In a wild summer for the Minnesota Wild, when it played an intense game of chicken with prized RFA Kirill Kaprizov, the team finally ended up re-signing him to a 5-year, $45 million contract.

For hockey fans and pundits, this deal is great for hockey because Kaprizov is an exciting young player to watch and one that is only set to further continue in the NHL. For those in hockey operations, this contract can be seen as a vast overpay. $9 million AAV for a player who hasn’t even played in 60 career NHL games is a huge gamble on a player that doesn’t quite have the track record of others who make that much money — or more. The Wild were able to eventually sign Kaprizov because the team’s front office was aggressive early in the offseason, buying out franchise cornerstones Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. Doing so not only freed up some cash for the Wild but it also signaled to their fanbase that they were ready to turn the page and turn to their youth to help propel them further.

Why It Matters: The Kaprizov signing has massive implications for the Wild. First, they are finally able to put to rest the offseason-long rumors of Kaprizov defecting back to the KHL where he was rumored to have a standing offer from his former team. This also is huge for the Wild in that they are able to lock up a new franchise cornerstone in Kaprizov.

Undoubtedly, he will slot back into his first line spot on the wing and on the powerplay. Kaprizov’s signing is also massive for the Wild because it comes on the heels of the start of training camp. Getting the Kaprizov signing done and out of the way enables him to join his teammates in training camp and reacquaint himself with the club ahead of the regular season.

The Bigger Picture: While the Wild are thrilled that the Kaprizov contract negotiations are over, this signing also has massive implications on the remaining big-name RFA market, namely Elias Pettersson and Brady Tkachuk.

As of publication, both players remain unsigned by their teams, the Vancouver Canucks and the Ottawa Senators, respectively. The Kaprizov contract likely gives both players a bit more leverage to use on their teams, as both players seek to get signed ahead of the start of the season. It’s rumored that Tkachuk is closer to signing a long-term deal than Pettersson, but for the Canucks, their limited cap space both this year and in future years are what’s prevented them from re-signing Pettersson. Despite this, Kaprizov’s signing is likely to help move the needle in terms of both teams trying to figure out what is a reasonable term and value.

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