Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov was named the winner of the NHL's Calder Trophy on Tuesday night which is awarded to the league's top rookie.
Kaprizov had a sensational rookie season for the Wild, scoring 27 goals and recording 51 points in 2021. While his numbers were impressive, the 24-year-old's impact came from more than just the box score.
With the ability to light the lamp as well as set up his teammates with his passing, the Wild went 31-3-2 when Kaprizov recorded a point this season.
Thanks to Kaprizov, the Wild finished third in the Honda West Division and forced a Game 7 against the Vegas Golden Knights in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
While the Golden Knights limited Kaprizov to two goals and an assist in the seven-game series, Kaprizov was able to feed a franchise that has been starving for a superstar since its inception.
Those qualities helped propel Kaprizov over Dallas' Jason Robertson and Carolina's Alex Nedeljkovic to become the first player in franchise history to win the Calder Trophy despite his advanced age.
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun believed that Kaprizov's five years of experience in the KHL helped prepare him more for his jump to the NHL but Kaprizov also had to deal with a language barrier and the difficulties of a pandemic during his rookie season.
With the Calder Trophy on his mantle, the attention for Kaprizov will turn to his contract situation.
Kaprizov signed a two-year entry deal last summer but burned the first year after he was declared ineligible to play in the NHL's playoff bubble. After his rookie year, Kaprizov is poised to cash in and according to The Athletic's Michael Russo, the Wild have offered him a deal that would be the largest in franchise history.
But the sticking point has been the length of the contract. The Wild would like to sign Kaprizov to an eight or nine-year deal but Kaprizov's camp would like to sign a bridge deal to make sure the Wild becomes a legitimate contender.
That may be hard to do as the Wild needs to sign restricted free agents Kevin Fiala and Joel Eriksson Ek this summer. General manager Bill Guerin will also be looking for an upgrade at the center position and managing the upcoming expansion draft.
For now, Minnesota fans can rejoice in one of their young superstars finally taking home a rookie of the year award. While Justin Jefferson and Anthony Edwards had fantastic rookie seasons, Kaprizov is the one player that has the hardware to prove it.