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Fenton to travel to Russia to meet with Kaprizov

Meeting will be the first between Wild's GM and one of its top prospects

by Dan Myers @MNWildScribe /

ST. PAUL -- Wild General Manager Paul Fenton will spend his Friday evening at Mariucci Arena, scouting a hockey game only a few miles from his home. 

On Saturday, Fenton will venture much farther than that as he takes off for his first trip to Russia as Minnesota's GM.

Fenton is no stranger to Russia; as Nashville's assistant general manager, he spent plenty of time scouting there in recent years and selected a number of Russians in the draft during his tenure in the Music City.

This time, Fenton will cross the pond to meet with a player widely viewed as a big part of the organization down the road, prospect Kirill Kaprizov. 

Video: Paul Fenton talks scouting trip

"It'll be a good experience for me to be able to physically see him, meet him and try to build a relationship with him so we know in the future, he'll be one of us," Fenton said. "For me, it's important that we build that relationship and we continue building that and nurturing that going forward."

Fenton has only seen Kaprizov from afar, watching him in the Olympics earlier this year, as well as in other international events. 

His early impressions have been nothing but positive.

"He's very, very skilled," Fenton said. "We have high expectations that he'll be able to apply that here and become a very, very large part of our organization going forward."

Since taking over as GM of the Wild in May, Fenton said he's had several conversations with Kaprizov's agent, Dan Milstein, just to make sure everyone was on the same page.

Kaprizov, a fifth-round pick of the Wild in the 2015 NHL Draft, is locked into his contract with CSKA Moscow for two more seasons including this one, meaning he could make his NHL debut as soon as the fall of 2020. 

In that scenario, he'd still be just 23 years old.

"All the indicators are that he wants to be a part of the Minnesota Wild organization," Fenton said. "As far as I'm concerned, yes, and I'm really looking forward to meeting him and seeing him play."

The plan is for Fenton to see Kaprizov and fellow Wild draft pick Andrei Svetlakov play multiple times next week in Russia, as well as in Finland, before Fenton makes his way back to North America. He also plans to have dinner with Kaprizov and his family, where he will pitch his vision for the franchise's future.

"We're very, very interested in him, I think that's the most important thing -- show him that we have the love for him," Fenton said. "Regardless, whether it's Kaprizov or any prospect of ours, we have to show them that this is a family, we want to succeed and we want them to be here."

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