Minnesota Wild Name Kirill Kaprizov Alternate Captain

NHL: Preseason-Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild
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The Minnesota Wild enter the 2023-24 NHL season with low expectations, and a sneaky amount of confidence inside their locker room, after finishing the preseason with an unusually convincing 5-1-0 record. But preseason games still do not count, last time I checked, and this is a team with a lot to prove.

Kirill Kaprizov Alternate Captain – Minnesota Wild

If the Wild are going to defy projections this year, and push into the Stanley Cup conversation, superstar Kirill Kaprizov needs to have the best season of his career. On Tuesday, the team reminded the 26-year-old Russian just how important he is to the organization by placing an “A” on his jersey and naming him Alternate Captain.

Kaprizov gets the “A” on his chest, after it was made available by Matt Dumba’s departure this offseason, in free agency. To casual NHL fans, there will be no surprise to this announcement. Kirill is hands-down the best and most important player in the Minnesota Wild organization. There’s no questioning that.

Kaprizov gets “A” over Joel Eriksson Ek

But for those who pay closer attention, Joel Eriksson Ek was a very legitimate contender. Because up until now, he has been one of the top locker room leaders for the Wild. Right up there with Dumba, Foligno and captain, Jared Spurgeon.

Kirill Kaprizov, on the other hand, is still learning his english and, only in the last few weeks, has he dipped his toe into answering press conference questions without an interpreter. He leads by example, as one of the hardest workers on the team.

Related: Dean Evason Hot Seat Check: 6 Questions for Minnesota Wild Entering 2023-24

Not every day do you have a talent like Kaprizov, who’s willing to grind like a 4th-liner worried about a paycheck. Still, it’s difficult to lead a locker room when you do not speak the same language as most of the players on the team. But, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. And there’s no doubt everyone on the Minnesota Wild roster knows exactly where their bread is buttered.

“You listen to a guy like that when he speaks up. He’s our best player and biggest leader, when it comes to the way he plays. His engine is what drives us. And when he’s on his game, it seems like our whole bench picks up. He’s a leader on the ice, and what he does out there, he’s the driving force behind our team. Everyone has ‘that guy’ and [Kirill Kaprizov] is definitely ‘our guy’.”

Marcus Foligno (via The Athletic)

At the end of the day, though, I applaud the Wild for choosing their young superstar. It shows their investment in him and their belief that he can rise up, not just as a terrific talent, but as a leader of men. And the more they invest and prop up their young superstar, the more likely he is to feel comfortable signing long-term in a couple years.

ICYMI: Minnesota Wild sign three veteran leaders to similar contract extensions:

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan