It’s only fitting to start player report cards with by far the best player the Minnesota Wild have ever had, Kirill Kaprizov. Following his outstanding rookie season of 55 games played where he scored 27 goals and 24 assists for 51 points, he came back and entered what many thought would be his “sophomore slump”. After signing a five-year, $45 million contract right before training camp was set to begin, he went on to have another career year.
Some thought he started the year out slow but in his first 10 games of the season, he put up seven goals and eight assists for 15 points. He’d have some quiet nights here and there, but out of the 81 games he played this season (missed one due to injury), he tallied a point in all but 18 games. He scored at least a point in 63 games and many of those were multi-point nights.
Wild’s Kaprizov Season Broken Down
By now everyone is aware of the record-setting season Kaprizov had. To start things off in the regular season, he set the franchise record for goals with 47. The next record was for assists which was originally broken by his linemate Mats Zuccarello, but then he passed him up as well and took the record with 61 assists on the season. That wasn’t all – his goals and assists totaled up to 108 points which of course broke the franchise record for most points in a season, and it was also the first time the Wild had a player hit the 100-point mark.
Away from the record-breaking for a little bit, he didn’t only have a great season individually, he helped set up both of his linemates who set new career highs in different scoring areas. He can raise the level of his own play, but whomever he plays with gets better as well. He’s one of those players that brings the best out of everyone.
“Kirill the Thrill” Steps Up
He had a great regular season and while some players have difficulty stepping up their game when the postseason hits, Kaprizov was definitely not one of them. He somehow found another level and he brought it. He led the team with eight points, seven goals, and one assist in six games. He was one of the few Wild players that were consistently good throughout the entire first-round series against the St. Louis Blues.
Related: Wild’s Kaprizov Continues to Set Records, Hits 100 Point Milestone
After his performance in the regular season, it’s not surprising that Kaprizov would come out of the playoffs with some new records there as well. He set a franchise record for the most goals in a single series with seven. Former Wild player Marián Gáborík still holds the record for most goals in a playoff season with nine goals between three series. Kaprizov also set the Wild record for most goals in a single postseason with three, along with the first-ever franchise hat trick in the playoffs.
Kaprizov Earns His Grade
Now to the grade, he had a great regular season and an even better postseason. The fact that his team couldn’t step up to his level shouldn’t affect his grade because he tried everything he could to get them going. Overall, everything combined he’s earned an A-. His offensive abilities are top-notch and the way he’s been playing, it seems like he still has more potential and will find new ways to score goals. He also will continue to help his teammates lift their games.
As far as defensive abilities go, during the first half of the regular season, Kaprizov did okay on defense. Nothing spectacular but nothing horrible, just okay. Later in the second half of the season, he started to pick it up a bit. However, in the postseason he again found another way to up his game by working harder on defense. He helped out his defensemen by digging in the corners, blocking shots, and getting in the way of the opposition as much as he could.
He didn’t get an A or A+ because while his defense improved, he can get better. Also, even though his passes worked sometimes, he could back off on the pass-first shoot-second mentality. He has a great shot that he needs to use when he has a chance. While it’s awesome that he wants to make the perfect pass, it’s not always necessary. The last thing is, while they’re a great pairing, he doesn’t always have to pass to Zuccarello, as Ryan Hartman is a perfectly capable center as well that sometimes gets forgotten.
None of these are terrible things, just items to work on in the offseason to get ready for another great performance next season. So, while he had outstanding numbers, he has some things to work on to get that A or even A+ grade and that’s good. There’s always room for improvement, even when he finished as one of the best scorers in the NHL. Wild fans can’t wait to see what impressive things he’ll do in 2022-23.