How Good is Kirill Kaprizov?
No-look passes in basketball were a thing long before the 3-point line existed. More recently, Patrick Mahomes has made them reality in football. But on Thursday night, Kirill Kaprizov took “no-look” to a new level when he scored a goal vs the Columbus Blue Jackets, while staring down his teammate, Mats Zuccarello, on a 2v1 rush.
Minnesota Wild fans have gotten used to this type of thing. Every time “Kirill the Thrill” takes the ice, there’s a very good possibility that something spectacular will happen. Just 2.5 years into his NHL career, Kaprizov has already set Wild franchise records for points, goals and assists in a season.
Kirill Kaprizov Smashing Franchise Records
If he continues on his current goal-scoring track (45 goals per season), the 25-year-old phenom will take Marian Gaborik’s place atop the franchise scoring pedestal by the time he turns 28. Kaprizov already ranks in the Wild’s top-10 for goals scored all-time (108) and needs just 111 more to tie Gaborik’s current record.
But the Minnesota Wild have never had an ELITE playmaker and goal scorer so it’s difficult for casual hockey fans to understand just how talented Kirill Kaprizov is. Most of us have don’t watch other elite NHLers like Connor McDavid or Nathan MacKinnon on a night-in, night-out basis so comparisons can be difficult.
Where Does Kaprizov Stand vs NHL Peers
Well, there’s no better place to turn, when trying to answer that question, than to the opinions of other players and coaches around the league. So, ESPN ran a survey voted on by NHL players and coaches recently. When the dust settled, Kaprizov ranked as the 3rd-best winger in hockey, behind only David Pastrnak (Bruins) and Nikita Kucherov (Lightning).
Not since the arrival of Alex Ovechkin in Washington had the NHL seen a left winger dominate offensively while helping to transform the reputation of his franchise. Gone were the days when the Wild were a defensive-minded team without a superstar player. Begun, the “Kirill the Thrill” era had.
“I just personally love watching Kaprizov play,” a Western Conference exec said. “With no disrespect to the centermen in Minnesota, but he creates all on his own. He does not need a centerman to play with him. You are seeing the ability to create offense on his own.
“But you are also seeing the chemistry he has with [Mats] Zuccarello. It’s not just creating offense in a one-on-one situation, but everyone Kaprizov plays with he makes so much better. That just goes to show how much talent he has.”ESPN
There’s no doubt that Kirill Kaprizov is one of the best players in all of hockey and a talent that Minnesota Wild fans have never seen wear a Christmas colored sweater. So soak in the greatness because this type of talent may never come around again.
Starting tonight, when the Wild continue their playoff push vs the Toronto Maple Leafs (6 PM CT).
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan