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Make no mistake, the Calder Trophy belongs to Kirill Kaprizov

Jason Robertson is making a push but Kaprizov deserves the award.
Kirill Kaprizov

Words are hard to come by when describing Kirill Kaprizov's rookie season. With highlight-worthy plays laced throughout his rookie campaign, Kaprizov is becoming a household name. To have that impact should make him a lock for the Calder Trophy – the award for the NHL's best rookie – but there appears to be competition.

Jason Robertson is having a tremendous season for the Dallas Stars. Robertson has put up more points per game (0.87) than Kaprizov (0.86) and has recorded 27 points in 26 games since recording a four-assist game vs. Chicago on Mar. 9.

Both rookies have made their case to take home the Calder Trophy but it should be clear that this trophy belongs to Kaprizov.

You'll have to excuse Minnesota fans if they're a little touchy about rookie of the year awards. Last fall, Justin Jefferson broke almost every rookie receiving record in the Super Bowl era and it wasn't good enough to defeat Justin Herbert. 

On the court, Anthony Edwards has been a 19-year-old beast for the Timberwolves but is losing votes to LaMelo Ball, who is currently out with a wrist injury.

Even in this case, there are valid reasons for Robertson taking home the Calder. He's nearly two years younger than Kaprizov and didn't have the benefit of a six-year head start playing professionally in the KHL.

But it's what Kaprizov has done to the Minnesota Wild as a franchise that has set him apart.

Since Marian Gaborik left after the 2008-09 season, the Wild have had some good players but there's a reason why internet trolls refer to this team as "The Mild."

Kaprizov brings the type of superstar the Wild have never had. His ability to score makes him a constant threat, and his passing ability has revived Mats Zuccarello (28 points in 33 games) and made Victor Rask competent.

Kaprizov's skating ability has had opposing coaches scratching their heads and commentators drooling on their headsets. In other words, Kaprizov is the living, breathing hockey god this state hasn't had since Mike Modano.

This is not hyperbole. During the opening months of the season, Kaprizov's play was on par with former North Star greats Modano, Neil Broten and Brian Bellows. Not only has Kaprizov kept that play up, he's getting better down the stretch.

Kaprizov has scored in his past four games and has five goals during the Wild's six-game winning streak. On the season, the Wild own a 25-3-0 record when he records a point and a 5-10-3 record when he doesn't. 

These aren't numbers that should be considered for the Calder Trophy. These should be numbers to be considered for the Hart (MVP) Trophy.

Even if you believe that Kaprizov's previous experience is an advantage, look at the history of the Calder Trophy. In 2015-16, 24-year-old Artemi Panerin won the award. In 2000-01, 25-year-old Evgeni Nbakov won it. 

Minnesota fans have been on the other end of this debate, too. In 1989-90, 31-year-old Sergei Makarov won it over Modano, who was 19. Surely, Modano would have some thoughts about this "unfair" advantage.

Robertson has had a solid rookie season but Kaprizov's impact on the Wild has been much greater. If Kaprizov continues to play like this, the Calder Trophy may not be the only one he'll be lifting at the end of the season.

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