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Wild's Kaprizov wins Calder Trophy

Kirill Kaprizov is the first player in team history to win the award, which is given to the league's top rookie.
Credit: AP
Minnesota Wild's Kirill Kaprizov (97) during the second period in Game 3 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series against the Vegas Golden Knights, Thursday, May 20, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. Vegas won 5-2. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

ST PAUL, Minn. — Kirill Kaprizov set virtually every rookie franchise scoring record in his first season with the Minnesota Wild, so it's only fitting he become the team's first Calder Memorial Trophy winner.

On Tuesday, the Professional Hockey Writers Association agreed.

Kaprizov was announced as this season's winner of the Calder Trophy, which is awarded to the league's top rookie.

The Russian phenom beat out Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic and Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson, who were the other two finalists for the award.

Kaprizov led all rookies in goals (27) and total points (51) in helping Minnesota reach the playoffs for the eighth time in the past nine seasons. He also led all rookies in shots (157), average ice time (18:18 per game), and was second in assists (24).

Since the Wild's season came to a close unceremoniously in a Game 7 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, all eyes have been on Kaprizov's contract and his future with the team. Despite playing just one season with the Wild, Kaprizov is currently an RFA, but with a 10.2c status, which means he can only negotiate and sign with the team that currently holds his signing rights – the Wild.

There's speculation that if a long-term contract isn't reached with Kaprizov, he might return to Russia to play in the KHL, where he starred before joining the Wild.

Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin has said this offseason that keeping Kaprizov is one of the team's top priorities. Two other players that the organization will be focused on are Joel Eriksson Ek and Kevin FIala, who are also restricted free agents.

"The biggest priority is signing Kaprizov, signing (Joel Eriksson) Ek and signing (Kevin) Fiala," said Guerin earlier this offseason. "We're trying to build a team and we're not just going around one guy. We have a lot of good players."

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