The Minnesota Wild have been waiting on Kirill Kaprizov to make his debut for the past five years. After selecting him in the fifth round of the 2015 NHL Draft, the 22-year-old is projected to make his highly anticipated NHL debut next season and has continued to fuel his own hype by dominating the Kontinental Hockey League.
By metrics of traditional stats, Wild fans should be drooling at the offensive display Kaprisov has put up for CSKA Moscow in the regular season, which concluded earlier this week.
With 33 goals, 29 assists (62 points) in 57 games, those numbers are significant on their own merit as Kaprizov ranks third in the KHL in total points and crossed the point-per-game threshold for the first time this season.
Going back the past couple of years, Kaprizov has turned the league on its head by producing seasons that haven't been seen for a player his age.
The numbers are great and deserve the hype, but what everyone in Minnesota wants to know is how those numbers will translate once he puts on a Wild sweater.
If you want to believe advanced metrics, the answer is really well. One of those metrics is NHLe, which uses a numerical formula to project how many points a player that is playing in a feeder league would record in the NHL.
According to the formula, which goes into more detail at Matchsticks and Gasoline, the KHL is the league that is the closest to the NHL in terms of competition. With Kaprizov putting up numbers at a historic rate, it's not a shock to find out he's one of five drafted players in KHL history to put up a NHLe of 70 by age 22.
With Kaprizov's NHLe computing out to 74.03, that means that he is projected to put up 74 points had he been with the Wild this season. By comparison, Eric Staal (63 games) and Kevin Fiala (58 games) lead Minnesota with 45 points each this season and would have to channel the spirit of Wayne Gretzky to come close to reaching 74 points by the end of the regular season.
To go deeper, the Wild have had just three players in franchise history to score 74+ points in a season with Staal scoring 76 points in 2017-18, Marian Gaborik scoring 83 points in 2007-08 and Brian Rolston recording 79 points in 2005-06.
Adding to the hype, Kaprizov was voted unanimously to be the next big star in North America by a panel of KHL All-Stars and although KHL expert Gillian Kemmerer warned there might be an acclimation period for someone who has never set foot in America, he should live up to the hype.
"I don’t have a reason to believe that performance-wise he won’t be able to hack it. I think if he’s feeling comfortable he’s going to do great," Kemmerer said in an interview with Eyes on the Prize. "Some players say that it literally looks like luck, except he’s been doing it for years. Just immense timing, unbelievable shot.”
The Wild haven't had a game-changing player since Gaborik left in free agency after the 2008-09 season. If Kaprizov makes the expected leap across the pond, he could fill that void and help accelerate whatever rebuild General Manager Bill Guerin has in mind.