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Guerin remains optimistic regarding Kaprizov contract

Wild prospect could sign two-year, entry-level deal any time after contract in Russia expired last month

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

The Wild remains in a holding pattern when it comes to the return of hockey this summer, but that doesn't mean General Manager Bill Guerin hasn't been hard at work trying to secure a big part of the team's future. 

Guerin has been in almost constant contact with prospect Kirill Kaprizov, who could sign a two-year, entry-level contract with Minnesota any day now. 

"We're still just status quo," Guerin said Tuesday from his family's home in New Jersey, where he has been for the past couple of days. "Not much has really changed and there is still time for us to get him signed. 

"I understand the anticipation of Kirill, and him getting signed, but this is just one of those things that's gonna take a little bit of time. Would I have liked this done three weeks ago? Sure, I would have liked this done three years ago. But this is an unusual situation, and had things gone the way they normally would have, without coronavirus, things probably would have been different."

Kaprizov's contract in the KHL expired on April 30, which made him eligible to sign a deal with the Wild, the team that drafted him in the fifth round of the 2015 NHL Draft.

A number of factors have made his situation more complicated, however. 

The NHL has already paused its rule regarding players, like Kaprizov, on a team's reserve list signing and becoming immediately eligible. Even if the 2019-20 season continues at some point this summer, as of now, it is believed that the NHL will not allow players on the reserve list to sign a deal that could, in effect, "burn" the first year of a player's contract, like the Wild did last season with Nico Sturm. 

That means any contract signed by Kaprizov would not begin until the start of the 2020-21 season, and because of the remaining uncertainty regarding this season, that has muddied the water a bit.

"To be honest, I don't know. It doesn't really look like [he'd be eligible to play this season]," Guerin said. "But I don't want to put words in anybody's mouth or make a call that hasn't been finalized. We're just taking it day-by-day with him and wait."

Kaprizov has also been without an agent, but that holdup appears to have an end in sight and is no longer believed to be an issue.

One thing is for certain, Guerin said: Kaprizov is eager to begin his career in the NHL. The 23-year-old winger has been outstanding in the KHL, scoring 63 goals and 113 points in 114 games the past two seasons with CSKA Moscow.

He helped CSKA to the Gagarin Cup as league champions last season and had two goals and four points in four playoff games this season before the KHL cancelled the remainder of its season in March because of COVID-19. 

"I think Kirill is actually being really smart in taking his time, going through the process and making sure he's going through the right steps," Guerin said. "I think it's the right thing to do."

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