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Kaprizov, Wild expected to discuss contract next week

Rookie forward won Calder Trophy, can become restricted free agent July 28

by Jessi Pierce / Independent Correspondent

Kirill Kaprizov and the Minnesota Wild are expected to resume contract talks this week, and general manager Bill Guerin said he believes "there's a deal to be had there."

"I'm confident in that," Guerin said Saturday. "I'm confident in [Kaprizov] and his wanting to be here and his willingness to play in Minnesota."

Kaprizov, who won the Calder Trophy voted as NHL rookie of the year this season, can become a restricted free agent July 28.

Guerin previously said Minnesota wanted to sign Kaprizov to a long-term contract; the 24-year-old reportedly prefers a shorter deal.

"You've got to understand the other side and where they're coming from," Guerin said. "They're trying to accomplish something and so are we. I think when there's maybe a bit of a disagreement, it just takes a little bit more time to come to a compromise.

"It's not just them not wanting to take what we're offering, it's us, too, and we have to see it that way. It takes two sides to make a deal, and it just could take a little bit longer."

Kaprizov led rookies in goals (27), points (51), power-play goals (eight) and shots on goal (157) in 55 games. He was second in even-strength points (38) and power-play points (13), and tied for third in plus/minus rating (plus-10).

Kaprizov, who averaged 18:18 of ice time per game and had a shooting percentage of 17.2 percent, had the most goals, assists and points by a rookie in Wild history.

Selected by Minnesota in the fifth round (No. 135) of the 2015 NHL Draft, Kaprizov played six seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League before signing a two-year, entry-level contract with the Wild on July 13, 2020.

"We've never cut off (contract) talks," Guerin said. "It's not like we're talking every day, but there's nothing that's been cut off or dried up or anything like that. It's just an ongoing process. Sometimes it takes three days. Sometimes it takes three months. … But we have plans to talk [this] week. It has not gone cold, contrary to what some people have reported. We've got an open dialogue going. There's nothing new to report, but it's not like things have stopped. We have plans to really get going.

"I'm confident we'll get a deal done at some point."

The Wild re-signed center Joel Eriksson Ek, who could have become a restricted free agent, to an eight-year, $42 million contract (average annual value of $5.25 million) on Friday, and forward Nick Bjugstad, who could have become an unrestricted free agent, to a one-year, $900,000 contract on Monday. Minnesota also intends to re-sign forward Kevin Fiala, who can become a restricted free agent.

Eriksson Ek, Kaprizov and Fiala -- each playing on a separate line for the majority of the season -- combined for 121 points in the regular season (66 goals, 55 assists) and were Minnesota's top three goal-scorers (Kaprizov, 27; Fiala, 20; Eriksson Ek, 19).

"I think it's just a matter of finding a fair middle ground and what works best for both sides," Guerin said. "I think that's true with any deal. [Eriksson Ek] signed an eight-year deal. That might not be the case for [Fiala], and it might be the case for [Kaprizov]. We don't know. It could be flip-flopped. I don't know. It all just depends on years and dollars and what we can afford to pay and what we can fit in. That's pretty much it."

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