This is probably not the way general manager Bill Guerin wanted the 2021 offseason to go for the Minnesota Wild.
Last week, Kevin Weekes reported that talented young forward Kirill Kaprizov could consider a return in the Kontinental Hockey League as CSKA is interested in signing him for KHL and the Olympics. This was said amongst chatter that talks have gone cold between Kaprizov and the Wild for a long-term contract extension.
Kaprizov, who was voted a finalist for the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year this season, can become a restricted free agent July 28. He led rookies in goals (27), points (51), power-play goals (eight) and shots on goal (157) in 55 games. He was second in even-strength points (38) and power-play points (13) and was tied for third in plus/minus rating (plus-10). On top of that, he he Wild in goals, points, points per game (0.93) and overtime goals (two), and scored three game-winning goals. Kaprizov, who averaged 18:18 of ice time per game and had a shooting percentage of 17.2 percent, scored the most goals, assists and points by a rookie in Wild history.
Then on Tuesday, another tough blow was handed to the Wild as team insider Michael Russo of The Athletic stated on the air of KFAN 1003 that there is a 50% chance that forward Kevin Fiala leaves the club this summer.
This obviously has to do with the flattened salary cap and what the Wild can allow its money to do ahead of the 2021-22 season. Fiala is set to become a restricted free agent this summer and is looking to earn more than the previous $3 million he earned annually over the past two season. And he has the right to a pay raise with a production of 94 points in 114 games over the past two years.
With Kaprizov, Fiala - if they stay - and Joel Eriksson Ek all due for significant raises this summer, the Wild will have to find valuable depth pieces to complete their roster without ruining itself.
It might even come down to what happens with Kaprizov to see what comes next for Fiala… A contract in Minny or a move elsewhere.