Kirill Kaprizov maximizing leverage vs. Wild with 'tentative' KHL deal

Kirill Kaprizov is coming off a sensational rookie season with the Wild. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
Kirill Kaprizov is coming off a sensational rookie season with the Wild. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

Is the NHL about to lose its next potential superstar?

According to Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff, Minnesota Wild Calder Trophy winner Kirill Kaprizov has a "tentative deal" in place with CSKA Moscow of the KHL. The deal is for one year and an eight-figure salary in American dollars, according to Seravalli, and will kick in on Sept. 1.

Suffice to say, the agreement gives the Wild a very specific timeframe to pony up the cash and term Kaprizov desires on an extension with the Wild.

It was believed the hangup in negotiations was that the Wild wanted to extend Kaprizov for seven or eight seasons. But as Seravalli notes, the Wild apparently have numerous offers with a wide variety of options on potential term on the table for the dynamic scorer (and maybe the most exciting player ever to put on that dark green sweater).

Michael Russo of The Athletic reports that some of those offers would be in the $9-million range.

This is a sticky situation and one that is all about leverage — of which Kaprizov is not short on. He is coming off a brilliant rookie season in Minnesota, providing exactly what the franchise has lacked for so long with sensational bursts of offense and real superstar potential. He scored 27 goals and picked up 51 points in 55 games to win the rookie scoring race by six.

He also finished eighth in goals, beating out the likes of Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.

Kaprizov's most powerful tool in negotiations, though, is what another league, or team, will pay him. And with CSKA Moscow, where he starred for three seasons before coming stateside, knocking on the door with the salary he covets, Kaprizov and his camp have the means to really apply the squeeze.

Of course, this can and probably will all be settled with Wild GM Bill Guerin presenting a contract to Kaprizov that he has been to this point uncomfortable with offering.

And here's hoping he does, because it would be a terrible look for the NHL to lose out on a potential superstar in a key market because of salary concerns and the financial dynamic wreaking havoc on franchises in the flat-cap world.

But as unfortunate as it would be to the league, it would be catastrophic for the Wild. Guerin is fresh off buying out two of the richest contracts in history with Zach Parise and Ryan Suter shown the door, and the intention was to free up cap space in the immediate term in order to build on what was an incredibly positive season for the franchise.

Losing Kaprizov would mean wasting next season, then suffering the consequences of buying out Parise and Suter for the next handful of years, perhaps when Kaprizov is prepared to return.

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