While the NHL’s Phase 3 kicked off on Monday, a window also opened allowing certain prospects to be signed. Almost immediately, two of the biggest unsigned names were locked down, ending weeks of speculation about their future.
Kaprizov Signs With Wild
Arguably, the biggest question mark out of all the players available was Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov. As a fifth-round pick at the 2015 NHL Draft, Kaprizov has been a dominant force playing in the KHL, scoring 30 goals in back-to-back seasons.
Related: NHL Waiver Rules
For many, Kaprizov was seen as one of the top prospects in the world, and he has the potential to be a major boon to the Wild’s offense. If his offense translates to the NHL, he could easily put up 20 to 30 goals and 50 points in his rookie season.
Also of note, this signing will burn a year of Kaprizov’s entry-level contract, meaning he will be due for a new deal next offseason, whenever that will occur.
Despite his much-hyped signing, Kaprizov will not be eligible for the playoff qualifiers. While this will be disappointing for Minnesota fans, knowing that they have one of their top prospects ready to play for the 2020-21 season should bring nothing but a smile to their faces.
Romanov Signs With Canadiens
While Kaprizov is arguably the biggest signing, the Montreal Canadiens added one of the top defensive prospects in the world to their roster for their training camp.
Alexander Romanov, a second-round pick in 2017, signed a three-year entry-level contract with Montreal on Monday. By signing this deal now, he will burn a year of his ELC and not be able to participate in the playoff qualifiers but will get the opportunity to learn during the Canadiens’ training camp.
As said by Emanuel of Fansided.com:
By being able to take part in training and traveling with the team to Toronto, Romanov will have the chance to get acquainted with his teammates and work under Claude Julien and the rest of the current coaching staff. As a result, this may make Romanov’s transition to the NHL next season all the more easier as the organization will have a better idea as to where to place him in the lineup.
With this signing, the Canadiens are also protected from an offer sheet down the road, giving the franchise a lot of flexibility for Romanov’s future.
For a player with Romanov’s skill and potential, getting a full training camp around his new teammates and coaches without having to immediately start in playoff-caliber games should only help his development. While it would have been nice to see him get into a few games, at least he will be ready to go for the 2020-21 season.
Prospect of the Day: Theodor Niederbach
Finally, let’s take a look at a 2020 NHL Draft hopeful who has the potential to make waves for the franchise like Romanov and Kaprizov. This prospect is Swedish forward Theodor Niederbach.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
If you haven’t committed Niederbach’s name to memory yet, he is one player worth remembering. Despite his small stature, he has a first-round toolkit, with some of the best offensive upside available in the second to third round of the draft.
As a highly skilled and incredibly smart center, Theodor Niederbach has the offensive toolset to be a first-round selection in the 2020 NHL Draft. His hockey IQ is off the charts, as he is able to use his speed and skill to create a goal-scoring chance out of seemingly nothing.
If not for injuries that cost him the entirety of the 2018-19 season, Niederbach could be making a case to be a top-20 selection. However, once he returned, he didn’t miss a stride, posting 15 goals and 48 points in 40 games while playing in Sweden’s top development league.
As it stands, Niederbach has the potential to be a top-six forward with power-play upside should he stay healthy and develop his game, which offers some fantastic value as a second to third-round selection.
Eugene Helfrick is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer who is actually from Tampa Bay. He has written about the Lightning for six years, covering everything from their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, to their crushing first-round exit in 2019, to their redemption in the bubble in 2020. While he is happy to talk about just about anything from cows to cars to video games, hockey will always remain one of his favorite pastimes.