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Wild would use first season of entry-level contract to sign Kaprizov

Forward prospect not eligible to compete in Cup Qualifiers against Canucks

by Jessi Pierce / Independent Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Kirill Kaprizov is not eligible to play for the Minnesota Wild in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers or Playoffs, but the team is willing to use the first season if the forward prospect signs a two-year, entry-level contract.

"It's just good that we are able to sign him," Wild general manager Bill Guerin said Sunday. "We are working through that now. It would be unfortunate that we would have to burn a year, but we are willing to do that with a player like him just to get him in the mix. Hopefully we can agree to something shortly."

The window for Kaprizov to sign with the Wild opens at 12 p.m. ET on Monday (the third day after the Collective Bargaining Agreement goes into effect) and runs through 5 p.m. ET on July 15 (the fifth day after CBA goes into effect). If he does sign, this season will count toward his entry-level contract even though he won't be eligible to play during the qualifiers or playoffs.

The NHL and NHL Players' Association ratified a four-year extension to the CBA on Friday. It will carry through at least the 2025-26 season.

Kaprizov, a fifth-round pick (No. 135) in the 2015 NHL Draft, led the Kontinental Hockey League with 33 goals and was third with 62 points in 57 games this season. The 23-year-old helped Olympics Athletes from Russia win the gold medal at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, scoring nine points (five goals, four assists) in six games.

Guerin also said that if Kaprisov signs, he would be eligible to participate in training camp (Phase 3) and can travel with the Wild to Edmonton on July 26. Minnesota (35-27-7, .558 points percentage) enters the qualifiers as the No. 10 seed in the Western Conference. The Wild will play the No. 7 seed, the Vancouver Canucks (36-27-6; .565), in one of eight best-of-5 series, with the winner advancing to the playoffs and the loser having a chance at the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery.

The series gets underway Sunday, Aug. 2.

"I just think to have him in the mix and have him signed would be nice," Guerin said. "If he could come over and get to know the area, meet some of his future teammates, see how things are done here, I think that would definitely be an advantage."

Kaprisov's contract can't include a signing bonus or performance bonus payable this season. It can contain a signing bonus payable next season, as long as it's dated to be paid after the opening of this offseason free agent signing period, which starts following the 2020 NHL Draft (scheduled for Oct. 9-10) and the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final.

"It was just another issue that was on the table and addressed and debated on both sides like anything else," NHLPA special assistant Mathieu Schneider said. "We talked to agents, we talked to players, and it's not something that our staff just sits there and makes a decision on or takes a position on. We do it with a lot of input from a lot of people. That's the same for any of these things that are negotiated in any CBA. But that one in particular, obviously players don't have an extreme view on that, so we rely on agents to bounce those ideas off of."

But with five years having passed since Kaprizov was drafted, the Wild are hoping to finally have him in the fold.

"We're just working through this stuff and trying to get him signed and brought into the mix," said Guerin. "It's been a long process. I know everybody's excited about him, but we're still just trying to work [to bring him here], hopefully soon."

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